Fung Supported Amnesty for Illegal Immigrants as Cranston Councilman

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


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Allan Fung

Allan Fung's support of the Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride while serving on the Cranston City Council has sent ripples through the Rhode Island Republican community, as the state's highly contested GOP gubernatorial primary between the Cranston Mayor and Ken Block is now just seven weeks away.

As former Republican State Representative and Congressional candidate John Loughlin first reported on his WPRO radio show on Saturday, Fung sponsored the City Council measure in 2003 affirming the goals of the Freedom Ride that year, which nationally had the backing of labor, Socialist, and Communist groups who turned out in favor of the effort for more flexible immigration laws. 

"I was absolutely shocked," said Loughlin of finding out Fung's endorsement of the measure. "For a Republican Councilman to vote in support of this, is unbelievable.  Even Senators McCain and Hatch were opposed at the time, and they're not even the most conservative of the bunch."

Fung defended his support of the resolution, saying it had bipartisan support, and was part of a larger reform movement. 

"In 2003, then Councilman Allan Fung called for "meaningful immigration reform" as stated in a resolution before the Cranston City Council. The 2003 resolution was part of a bipartisan call for reform that was supported by business advocates," said Fung spokesperson Robert Coupe. 

Fung's opponent Ken Block, however, called into question the core base of the support for the Freedom Ride, who supported amnesty for undocumented immigrants in the U.S.

"Looking at the who's who of the supporters of 2003 Freedom Ride, it's incredibly left of center," said Block campaign spokesperson Jeff Britt.  "Quite frankly, we're shocked.  The immigration stance as we understand [Fung's] taken now can't possibly come from the person who supported this resolution."

Immigration Issues

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John Loughlin

As the immigration debate heats up in Rhode Island, with Senator Chafee reaffirming Monday that he has not been contacted by President Obama about the possibility of housing undocumented immigrant children coming into the country, both Block and Fung have publicly opposed heeding any such request from the Administration.   

"Mayor Allan Fung continues to call for reform of federal immigration laws.  Earlier today, Mayor Fung delivered a letter to Governor Chafee urging the Governor not to accept any request from the Obama administration to house within Rhode Island any of the recent immigrants who have crossed our borders illegally. This letter also sought Governor Chafee's support in calling again for federal immigration reform," said Coupe.

However, it was Fung's support of the 2003 measure that drew the attention Terry Gorman, the longtime head of Rhode Island Illegal Immigration Enforcement, who said he was "shocked" as well at the Fung revelation.

"Just understand, I'm not saying this from a political standpoint, but I was shocked to see this, especially when the list of supporters nationally was the ACLU, the Communist Party, it goes on and on," said Gorman.  "For any politician to come out in support of this, these are radical folks, so I was shocked to see that from Fung."

"I find a couple of things funny," Gorman continued.  "Ken Block just got in the GOP for  the race this year, and Allan's criticizing him roundly for that.  What about Fung ten years ago, voting with the Democrats, working for Sheldon [Whitehouse] -- when he in fact does the same thing?

Party Politics

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Ken Block

The resolution passed overwhelmgingly in Cranston in 2003 -- and an identical measure was introduced and approved in Providence.

"When you're in the minority -- having served in the minority - it can be liberating to vote your conscious, to stand up and say look, I'm going to say something against this," said Loughlin.   "There had to be a metamorphosis at some time for [Fung] on his immigration view.  However, one of my callers said that every week something else comes out from the Fung campaign, and it's not coming from Allan himself."

Britt compared the revelation of Fung's sponsorship of the immigration measure to his change of stance on gun control

"This is very much like Allan's position on second amendment rights, when we learned that he sponsored gun control measures while on the City Council," said Britt.  "Sure, his views may have changed, which is great, but when did his happen?  We never know, because he only says something when asked by the press."

"Fung has run a campaign that has focused on the issues him being the good Republican, and attacking Mr. Block," said Britt.   I think we should have a discussion of the issues, and if wants to talk about the good Republican, he should look in the mirror at himself."

"As a City Councilman and Mayor, Allan Fung has consistently expressed his support for meaningful reform of our federal immigration laws," reiterated Coupe. "During this campaign, Mayor Fung also has stated his support for E-Verify and his opposition to providing Rhode Island drivers' licenses to undocumented immigrants. Any attempts by his primary opponent to distort Allan's positions based upon a city council resolution from eleven years ago would illustrate the desperation of Mr. Block's campaign."


Related Slideshow: 10 Questions Fung Has to Answer When Running for Gov of RI

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10) Can Fung raise the money necessary to be competitive?

At the last reporting period, Cranston Mayor Allan Fung's campaign had only $336,000.


Ken Block had $540,000 and he just entered the race.  


Democrat Gina Raimondo has over $2.3 million and even Angel Taveras has $759,000 cash on hand.

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9) Is Fung ready for prime time?

Fung is well-liked in Cranston and most everyone thinks Fung is a "nice guy."


Gina Raimondo and Angel Taveras can claim they took on tough issues.


Ken Block articulates big ideas and a proven record in business, but out of the gate Fung's campaign seems less than ready.


Fung's campaign manager got confused about how many Democrats Fung has  donated to and his motivation for donating to them. 


Would another four years in Cranston be the wiser path?

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8) Can Fung effectively run against Angel Taveras?

Fung claims Providence Mayor Angel Taveras as a close friend, but it raises questions about inherent personal conflicts and ability to run and effective race.


Politics in Rhode Island is often a blood sport, will Fung approve that knockout punch TV spot in the closing weeks that tags Taveras for the spiraling crime problem in Providence?

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7) Is Fung's base big enough?

For Mayor Fung, his base is Cranston, but he does not enjoy a groundswell of Hispanic voters like Providence Mayor Angel Taveras hopes to bank on (7% of the voters were Hispanic in the General Election in 2012, according to Pew Research).


A race against Raimondo would be tough as she would very likely have a strong block of female voters.


Where does Fung get his votes?

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6) Can Fung defend the tax increases in Cranston?

When Fung runs as a Republican against a Democrat, there is an advantage if Fung can point out a differentiation of fiscal discipline. Fung, as Mayor, had numerous and significant residential and commercial tax increases.


This will not help him against the fiscally prudent Ken Block, but even if he were to win the primary then he would lose the advantage against Angel Taveras in a General Election. Both have ushered large tax increases through their councils.

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5) Why pledge to create "20,000 jobs"? It sounds like Don Carcieri.

Don't know if Fung was paying attention, but GOP Governor Don Carcieri ran on...creating 20,000 new jobs. 


When Carcieri left office, Rhode Island had the worst unemployment in America. Not sure Fung wants to mirror that Carcieri pledge.

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4) Defending Don Carcieri and making him a part of the campaign - is that a good idea?

The collapse of 38 Studios has scarred Don Carcieri's legacy as Governor of Rhode Island. At best, Carcieri was star struck to give a baseball player $75 million -- at worse, Carcieri was part of something far more ominous.


For Fung, who wants to run as the future of Rhode Island, why be associated with Don Carcieri?

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3) Defending the lobbyist role?

In 2014, do we think Rhode Islanders will be looking for a former lobbyist for a large corporation that is cutting Rhode Islander's jobs to be our next Governor?


Lobbyist-turned-Governor will be tougher to pull off than actor Ronald Reagan-turned-Governor of California in the 1960's.

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2) Understand the changing position on gay marriage?

Hard to know what Allan Fung's position is on gay marriage. At different times he offered a range of views.


Some GOP primary voters have been opposed to the RI law and others were supportive, but neither segment of the GOP may understand what his position was -- or is.  

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1) Political donations to local, federal and national Democrats - are you sure you are a Republican?

Fung has given to David Cicilline, US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, former RI Senate President Bill Irons and once RI Attorney General Patrick Lynch. Fung's campaign manager claims he was a lobbyist and needed to donate to Democratic leaders.  Cicilline, Reid and Lynch meet none of those criteria.  


Not only did Fung give thousands of his own dollars to Dems, he turned down requests from leading GOP candidates like John Robitalle and Jon Loughlin who were badly outspent and needed every dollar to win.


The Republican party in Rhode Island is a pretty small group trying to create a pretty big tent - from Scott Avedisian to Doreen Costa. For most Republicans in this state it is tough -- you don't enjoy the political connections and you're part of a tiny minority -- so loyalty matters.


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