BOWLING GREEN, Ohio (TDB) -- Republican congressional candidate Bob Latta is portraying himself as an immigration hardliner who would bar illegals from receiving taxpayer-funded health care and education benefits. But the state legislator from Bowling Green hasn't signed on to support a bipartisan measure in the Ohio House that would take the actions he is now promising. The House immigration crackdown bill Latta has turned his back on also includes a prohibition against Ohio driver licenses and ID cards to immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally.
For the past three months, Latta has been missing in action from the sponsor's list on H.B. 308, a measure that would place restrictions on hiring and sheltering illegal immigrants in Ohio. The measure was introduced last September and restricts "the employment, transport, post-secondary education benefits, driver's licenses and identification cards, and receipt of public benefits of persons who are not legal residents of the United States."
Legislative officials say they are unaware of any steps taken by Latta to sign on as a co-sponsor.
"He's full of it, he's hasn't lifted a finger on this issue in the Statehouse. They sent out for co-sponsorships. If Latta wanted to do something, he could have jumped on it. You had Republicans like Bill Seitz and Courtney Combs who signed up, and Dale Mallory, a Democrat whose brother is the mayor of Cincinnati. Where's Latta? He's missing in action. He could have done something in Columbus. He only wants to do a commercial, not any lawmaking. He's totally full of it."
Seitz, a Cincinnati Republican, moved to the Ohio Senate when Patty Clancy stepped down. Combs is a former Butler County Commissioner. Combs comes from a community where the sheriff and other local officials are making it clear that illegal immigrants are not welcome.
Latta is running against Democrat Robin Weirauch for the vacant U.S. House seat in Ohio's 5th Congressional District. The special election is Dec. 11.
Latta says Weirauch favors extending federally financed health care benefits to illegal immigrants. Weirauch's campaign says Latta's charge is false. Latta held a news conference this week that was timed to coincide with the release of a campaign ad that proclaims "Washington Does Nothing" about illegal immigration. The National Republican Congressional Committee goes on to say that Latta is "ready to get tough on illegal immigration."