Sign up for The Brief, our daily newsletter that keeps readers up to speed on the most essential Texas news.
A blogger who received campaign funds from U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, D-McAllen, lobbed racist attacks on Republican Rep. Mayra Flores, the first woman born in Mexico to be elected to Congress and Gonzalez’s opponent in the race for Texas’ 34th Congressional District.
Texas political blogger Jerry McHale referred to the congresswoman as “Miss Frijoles” and “Miss Enchiladas.” He accused her of “playing the race card” and called her a “cotton pickin’ liar” over her claims that she worked in cotton fields with her immigrant parents as a child.
Gonzalez’s campaign gave the McHale Report $1,200 on June 24 for “advertising services,” according to the Federal Election Commission, as well as $1,000 on Oct. 27 last year.
Gonzalez told the Tribune that he had never read the blog and was unaware of McHale's racist commentary. He committed not to giving any more campaign money to the blog.
"As soon as I found out, we pulled the plug on all that," he said.
NBC News first reported the campaign contributions. Gonzalez’s campaign manager, Collin Steele, told NBC News that the campaign didn’t pay for McHale to deploy those attacks, texting the network: “Of course, the congressman is against referring to Rep. Flores as ‘Miss Frijoles’ or a ‘cotton-picking liar.’”
In a statement to The Texas Tribune, Flores said she was “disgusted that Vicente Gonzalez has hired a creepy blogger to attack my Mexican heritage and sexually degrade me, but I won’t let this distract me from my work.”
“Vicente Gonzalez is an example of everything that’s wrong with Washington. He doesn’t have a record to stand on,” she said.
McHale also appears to have received disbursements for advertising from campaigns for former U.S. Reps. Filemon Vela and Solomon Ortiz going back to 2004. The campaign for Vela, who resigned from office earlier this year, gave McHale $500 for advertising in March 2020.
This is the second time since Flores was elected in her June 14 special election that Gonzalez has taken heat for comments made about his opponent. Gonzalez told Newsweek last month that the freshman congresswoman was an “unqualified” “pawn” of the Republican Party and distanced himself from Flores by saying: “I wasn’t born in Mexico, I was born in South Texas, the son of a Korean war veteran.”
McHale defended his rhetoric in a Monday blog post in which he wrote Flores “obviously has no concept of satire, particularly in the political arena,” adding “when did frijoles become the equivalent of the ‘N’ word?”
Flores highlighted the posts on Twitter, drawing comparisons to first lady Jill Biden’s comments in San Antonio last week where she said the city’s Latino community was “unique as the breakfast tacos.” The first lady later apologized for the comment. Several Republican allies drew a similar comparison, with U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, tweeting “#WeAreNotTacos” on Tuesday in support.
When you join us at The Texas Tribune Festival Sept. 22-24 in downtown Austin, you’ll hear from changemakers who are driving innovation, lawmakers who are taking charge with new policies, industry leaders who are pushing Texas forward and so many others. See the growing speaker list and buy tickets.