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Linda Chavez

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Title: Linda Chavez  
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Subject: United States Senate election in Maryland, 1986, Mari Maseng Will, Faith Whittlesey, White House Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs, Barbara Mikulski
Collection: 1947 Births, American Columnists, American Federation of Teachers People, American People of Converso Descent, American People of English Descent, American People of Irish Descent, American People of Jewish Descent, American People of Spanish Descent, American Political Writers, American Politicians of Mexican Descent, American Politicians of Spanish Descent, American Talk Radio Hosts, American Writers of Mexican Descent, Candidates in United States Elections, 1986, Colorado Republicans, Commentators, George W. Bush Administration Controversies, Hispanic and Latino American Women in Politics, Living People, Maryland Republicans, Neomexicanos, People from Albuquerque, New Mexico, University of Colorado Alumni, Washington, D.C. Republicans
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Linda Chavez

Linda Chavez
Linda Chavez at CPAC in February 2010.
7th Assistant to the President for Public Liaison
In office
April 8, 1985 – February 4, 1986
President Ronald Reagan
Preceded by Faith Whittlesey
Succeeded by Mari Maseng
Personal details
Born Linda Lou Chavez
(1947-06-17) June 17, 1947
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Nationality American
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Christopher Gersten
Children David, Pablo, and Rudy
Alma mater University of Colorado
University of California, Los Angeles
Occupation Politician
Religion Roman Catholic[1]

Linda Lou Chavez[2] (born June 17, 1947) is an American author, commentator, and radio talk show host. She is also a Fox News analyst, Chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity, has a syndicated column that appears in newspapers nationwide each week, and sits on the board of directors of two Fortune 1000 companies: Pilgrim's Pride and ABM Industries. Chavez was the highest-ranking woman in President Ronald Reagan's White House, and was the first Latina ever nominated to the United States Cabinet, when President George W. Bush nominated her Secretary of Labor. She withdrew from consideration for the position when the media published allegations that she had employed an illegal immigrant a decade earlier. In 2000, Chavez was named a Living Legend by the Library of Congress.


  • Early life and family 1
  • Background with labor unions 2
  • Career in Republican administrations 3
    • Secretary of Labor nomination 3.1
  • Run for U.S. Senate 4
  • Columnist and commentator 5
  • Political action committees and non-profit foundations 6
  • Affiliations 7
  • Awards and recognitions 8
  • Writings 9
  • References 10
  • External links 11

Early life and family

Chavez was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the daughter of Velma Lucy (née McKenna) and Rudolfo Enrique Chavez, a tail gunner in World War II[3] who worked as a house painter.[2][4] She is of Neomexicana descent on her father's side. Her father was descended from immigrants to New Spain from Spain in the 17th century; his family had lived in the New Mexico area for several hundred years, his ancestor Diego de Montoya (born in Texcoco, New Spain, in 1596) was the leader of an encomienda, a protectorate of Puebloan peoples in Pueblo San Pedro in New Mexico.[2][5] This ancestor of Chavez is shared with actor Adrian Grenier who is thus her ninth cousin.[6][7] Another ancestor of Chavez is Mexican politician and general Manuel Armijo who served as governor of the Mexican territory of New Mexico, then as a general of the Mexican Army, surrendering to U.S. forces in the Mexican–American War. Her mother was of English and Irish ancestry.[8] Chavez earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Colorado in 1970. She attended graduate school at UCLA.

She is married to Christopher Gersten, former Bush Administration official, and is the mother of three adult sons, David, Pablo, and Rudy. She is a grandmother of nine and resides with her family in Boulder, Colorado. Chavez was raised Catholic and converted to Judaism on June 9, 1967, when marrying her husband.[9] Chavez said in 1986 that she was never a practicing Jew, that the conversion papers were signed simply to allow the wedding ceremony to take place. She said she was "an on-again, off-again practicing Catholic."[10] Some of Chavez's distant paternal ancestors had been Conversos (Sephardic Jews who converted to Catholicism).[11]

Background with labor unions

Starting in 1975, Chavez was employed within the inner circles of the United States second largest teachers' union, the

  • Center for Equal Opportunity web site
  • Podcasts of Chavez's recent articles
  • Appearances on C-SPAN
    • , March 22, 1992.Out of the Barrio interview with Chavez on Booknotes

External links

  1. ^ Linda Chavez
  2. ^ a b c Stated on Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr., May 20, 2012, PBS
  3. ^,_president_reagan/page/full
  4. ^ "Chavez: Unusual Path From There To Here". Chicago Tribune. January 10, 2001. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ Jurgensen, John (March 22, 2012). "Doubling Down on DNA". The Wall Street Journal. 
  7. ^ Gates, Henry Louis, Jr. (2014). Finding Your Roots: The Official Companion to the PBS Series. UNC Press Books. p. 382.  
  8. ^ Hernandez, Macarena (August 19, 1998). "Conservative and Hispanic, Linda Chavez Carves Out Leadership Niche". The New York Times. p. 2. 
  9. ^ "Boschwitz's push pulls him into dispute". Star Tribune. November 1, 1986. 
  10. ^ a b Margolis, Jon (October 9, 1986). "Liberal Dose Of Barbs In Maryland". Chicago Tribune. 
  11. ^
  12. ^ Radosh, Ronald (Winter 2003). "A Uniquely American Life". American Outlook (Hudson Institute). 
  13. ^ "Center for Equal Opportunity". official biography. Retrieved 2009-10-09. 
  14. ^ Chavez, Linda (September 30, 2003). An Unlikely Conservative: The Transformation of an Ex-Liberal (Or How I Became the Most Hated Hispanic in America). Basic Books.  
  15. ^ "Letter Accepting the Resignation of Linda Chavez as Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of the Office of Public Liaison". February 3, 1986. Retrieved 2009-07-25. 
  16. ^ The report brought wider attention to the lasting harm to human rights caused by Japan's  
  17. ^ White House photograph of President Bush meeting with Immigration Reform participants on March 23, 2006
  18. ^ Schmitt, Eric; McLean, Renwick (February 8, 2001). "Onetime Illegal Immigrant Sheltered by Chavez Recalls Painful Past". The New York Times. 
  19. ^  
  20. ^ Fournier, Ron (January 9, 2001). "Chavez Withdraws As Labor Nominee". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2006-11-22. 
  21. ^ Philip D. Duncan, Brian Nutting, ed. (1999). CQ's Politics in America 2000: the 106th Congress. CQ Press. p. 606.  
  22. ^ a b Miller, John J. (July 8, 2004). "The Outing". National Review Online. 
  23. ^ Kamber, Victor (2003). Poison Politics: Are Negative Campaigns Destroying Democracy?. Basic Books. p. 152.  
  24. ^ Sheckels, Theodore F. (2006). Maryland Politics and Political Communication, 1950–2005. Lexington Books. p. 84.  
  25. ^ Harari, Fiona (2011). A Tragedy in Two Acts: Marcus Einfeld and Teresa Brennan. Melbourne Univ. Publishing. p. 70.  
  26. ^ Dendy, Dallas L., Jr.; Anderson, Donnald K. (1987). "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 4, 1986" (PDF). U.S. Government Printing Office. Retrieved August 3, 2012. 
  27. ^ "New Feature Argues Two Sides of Issue". St. Paul Pioneer Press (St. Paul, Minnesota). July 1, 1990. Retrieved August 3, 2012. 
  28. ^ Chavez, Linda; Erbé, Bonnie (August 22, 1990). "The 'Glass Ceiling': Myth Or Reality For Women?". The Seattle Times. Retrieved August 3, 2012. 
  29. ^ Chavez, Linda; Erbé, Bonnie (February 4, 1991). "Let Private Clubs Exclude by Gender?". The Telegraph-Herald (Dubuque, Iowa). p. 4A. Retrieved August 3, 2012. 
  30. ^ "Chavez, Controversial Choice, Withdraws As Labor Nominee". Puerto Rico Herald. Associated Press. January 9, 2001. Retrieved August 3, 2012. 
  31. ^ Bozell III, L. Brent (June 16, 2000). "Liberal incivility reigns at PBS TV". Human Events. Retrieved 2007-08-17. 
  32. ^ "To the Contrary showlist 2008". PBS program website. Retrieved 2009-10-09. 
  33. ^ "To the Contrary panelists". PBS program website. Retrieved 2009-10-09. 
  34. ^ Jones, Tim (January 11, 2001). "Chavez May Turn Controversy into Opportunity". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved August 3, 2012. 
  35. ^ Profile: Linda Chavez ABC News
  36. ^ a b Matthew Mosk, (August 13, 2007). "In Fundraising's Murky Corners: Candidates See Little of Millions Collected by Linda Chavez's Family". Washington Post. 
  37. ^ a b Matthew Murray (January 16, 2008). "Linda Chavez to Halt Fundraising". Roll Call. 
  38. ^ Playing Catch-Up: How Children Born to Teen Mothers FareThe National Campaign To Prevent Teen Pregnancy.
  39. ^ "Bruin Alumni Advisory Board Member – Linda Chavez". Bruin Alumni Association. 
  40. ^ "Awards and Honors, Library of Congress: Linda Chavez". Library of Congress. 2000. Retrieved 2009-10-09. 


  • (With Daniel Gray) Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics, 2004 (ISBN 1-4000-5259-9)
  • An Unlikely Conservative: The Transformation of an Ex-Liberal (Or How I Became the Most Hated Hispanic in America), 2002 (ISBN 0-4650-8903-8)
  • Out of the Barrio: Toward a New Politics of Hispanic Assimilation, 1991 (ISBN 0-465-05431-5)


In 2000, Chavez was named a Library of Congress Living Legend.[40]

Awards and recognitions

Chavez sits on the Boards of several non-profit organizations, including the Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy,[38] and was named to the advisory board of the Bruin Alumni Association.[39]

Chavez is a Director of two Fortune 1000 companies, Pilgrim's Pride and ABM Industries. Pilgrims Pride is the largest poultry producer in the United States, and ABM Industries is the 2nd largest property management company in the United States. Chavez is a past Board member of Greyhound Lines as well as the Foundation for Teaching Economics.


In January 2008, Chavez and her husband said that they planned to shut down all of their PACs.[37]

According to campaign finance records, the Pro-Life Campaign Committee was fined $150,000 in May 2006 for failing to file accurate records with the Federal Election Commission (FEC). In 2006, Latino Alliance negotiated a $2,500 settlement with the FEC for filing incomplete records. In 2007, the Republican Issues Committee paid a $110,000 fine for failing to disclose hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions and expenditures.[37]

The Post also reported that Chavez and her family, through political action committees they had created, including the Republican Issues Committee, the Latino Alliance, Stop Union Political Abuse, and the Pro-Life Campaign Committee, had further family income. In 2001, the PACs paid Chavez's husband $77,000, her son Pablo $25,000, and her son David about $10,000. Then, from 2002 through 2006, the PACs paid Chavez and her family $261,000. The PACs raised $24.5 million from January 2003 to December 2006, with a total of $242,000 of that money being given to politicians.[36]

Chavez is the founder and chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity, a conservative think tank which focuses on three specific areas: affirmative action, immigration and bilingual education. In 2007, the Washington Post reported that between 1997 and 2003, her salary from that foundation ranged from $125,000 to $136,000. In 2004, the last year for which records were available to the Post, she was paid $70,000; that year the foundation also paid her son David $83,000. From 1998 to 2001, her husband, Chris Gersten, was paid $64,000 a year from the Institute for Religious Values, another foundation she helped start. By comparison, between 2003 and 2006, the two foundations, plus two others founded by Chavez and her family, raised about $350,000 per year, combined. Chavez said that "I guess you could call it the family business."[36]

In 1986, Chavez became president of U.S. English, a non-profit dedicated to establishing English as the official language of the United States. She resigned in 1988 following comments by co-founder John Tanton which she regarded as "anti-Hispanic" and "anti-Catholic".[35]

Political action committees and non-profit foundations

Chavez is currently a syndicated columnist with Creators Syndicate and a Fox News political commentator. She frequently appears on a number of national news programs, including The O'Reilly Factor, the Glenn Beck show, Hannity and Colmes, The Rush Limbaugh Show, Good Morning America, The Newshour with Jim Lehrer, and Fox and Friends. She has previously been a regularly panelist on The McLaughlin Group, Crossfire, and Eye on Washington. She has guest-hosted several shows, including Hannity and Colmes, sitting in for Sean Hannity, and To the Contrary, sitting in for Erbé.

In early January 2001 Chavez stopped writing her column because she was in consideration for the position of Secretary of Labor. After withdrawing under controversy, she resumed her affiliation with the syndicate. Richard Newcombe, president of Creators Syndicate, said that he thought the controversy and exposure would be good for Chavez's writing career.[34]

Chavez quit PBS's To the Contrary after a May 12, 2000, incident when the host, Erbé, made the claim on air that, at her age, Chavez was more likely to be hit by lightning than raped.[31] The comment was made during a discussion on gun control and whether it was necessary for Chavez to obtain a gun to defend herself against a potential rape. Chavez and Erbé argued on the opposite sides of the gun ownership issue. After an absence of more than seven years, Chavez returned to the program on January 18, 2008[32] and is listed as a panelist on its website.[33]

Chavez published her first book, Out of the Barrio: Toward a New Politics of Hispanic Assimilation, in 1991. She wrote that American Hispanics should not have followed the same path as African Americans, seeking compensation for discrimination via affirmative action. She wrote that Hispanics should assimilate themselves and use the English language in mainstream society.[30]

Beginning July 1, 1990, Chavez was paired with Bonnie Erbé in the "Our Turn" op-ed column syndicated by Universal Press Syndicate. From opposing ideological viewpoints, the two columnists addressed topics of current interest, questions such as whether the glass ceiling was a myth, whether American women should serve in combat, and whether surrogate motherhood should be banned.[27][28] In 1991, Erbé, Chavez and the "Our Turn" column were picked up by Creators Syndicate. They continued to field polarizing political questions related to women and gender such as whether men's clubs should continue to be allowed to exclude women.[29]

Columnist and commentator

In the campaign, Chavez attacked Mikulski, a lifelong Baltimore resident, as a "San Francisco-style, George McGovern, liberal Democrat."[22] Chavez was accused of making Mikulski's sexual orientation a central issue of the political campaign. Chavez wrote that the term referred to Jeane Kirkpatrick's 1984 Republican National Convention "Blame America First" speech, in which she coined the phrase "San Francisco Liberal" in reference to the Democratic National Convention in San Francisco.[22] Using political advertisements and press conferences, Chavez attacked Mikulski's former aide Teresa Brennan as "anti-male" and a "radical feminist", a tactic that Victor Kamber observed to be implying that Brennan and Mikulski were radical lesbians, and that "fascist feminism" was Mikulski's political philosophy.[23][24] Brennan had not been part of Mikulski's staff for five years, but Chavez implied Brennan was still working on Mikulski's campaign. Mikulski did not respond in kind to the barbs.[25] She defeated Chavez with 61% of the vote.[26]

In 1986, Chavez left her post as the highest ranking woman in Ronald Reagan's White House in an attempt to win the open U.S. Senate seat in Maryland. She ran as a Republican against Democrat Barbara Mikulski. The election was the second time in modern U.S. history that two women faced each other in a statewide general election. The race was covered by national media, with observers noting that Chavez was very unlikely to win.[10][21]

Run for U.S. Senate

However, she withdrew from consideration after it was revealed, through her neighbor Margaret "Peggy" Zwisler, that she had allegedly given money to Marta Mercado, a one-time illegal immigrant from Guatemala who lived in her home more than a decade earlier.[18] Mercado was said by columnist Robert Simon to have been given "$100 to $150... every few weeks" for performing household chores for Chavez such as "vacuuming, laundry, cleaning and child care."[19] Chavez withdrew as President Bush's nominee but stated she never felt pressure from Bush's political team to do so. Chavez has always maintained that she knew Mercado was in the United States illegally, stating "I think I always knew."[20]

In 2001, President Secretary of Labor. She was the first Hispanic woman nominated to a United States cabinet position.

Secretary of Labor nomination

Chavez was the head of Governor George W. Bush's taskforce on immigration when he ran for president in 2000, and she later met with him on a number of occasions while he was president to discuss immigration reform.[17]

In 1992, Chavez was elected by the United Nations Human Rights Commission to serve a four-year term as U.S. Expert to the U.N. Sub-commission on the Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities. In August 1993, the sub-commission asked Chavez to study systematic rape, sexual slavery and slavery-like practices during wartime, including internal armed conflict. As Special Rapporteur, Chavez reported regularly for nearly four years to different sub-commission meetings. In May 1997, Chavez asked that the final report be finished and delivered by a colleague, and was granted permission to withdraw from the project. (On June 22, 1998, her successor, Gay McDougall, released the final version of "Contemporary Forms of Slavery".)[16]

Chavez has held a number of appointed positions, among them Administrative Conference of the United States (1984–1986) under President Reagan.

Career in Republican administrations
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