Baca tangles with another Republican congressman over Muslim Americans [Updated]
L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca drew national headlines again Monday for tussling with a Republican congressman over Muslim Americans.
At a Washington, D.C., forum hosted by American Muslim groups, Baca challenged assertions by Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) that members of the religious minority haven’t always been cooperative with law enforcement.
Baca dismissed the congressman’s remarks, inviting him to come visit Los Angeles County, where the sheriff says Muslim Americans have been pivotal in helping to fight terrorism and other crime.
Baca, who proudly declares himself an international sheriff, found himself in a similar position last year when then-Rep. Mark Souder (R-Ind.) said during a House Homeland Security subcommittee meeting that Baca had allied himself with a Muslim American group that engaged in "radical" speech by going to its fundraisers. Baca shot back at that description of the Council on American-Islamic Relations and told Souder he would be fine with going to more fundraisers for the group.
"If he thinks I'm afraid of what he said, I will go to 10 fundraisers because he said it," Baca said afterward, before labeling Souder an “amateur intelligence officer." [Updated, 6:51 p.m.: An earlier version of this post implied that Souder is still a congressman. He resigned last May for unrelated reasons.]
“The sheriff is adamant about including Muslim Americans in the community they’re a part of,” said Baca spokesman Steve Whitmore. “He’s been known to take heat for that, and he’s more than willing to do that.”
No word yet on whether King will be accepting the sheriff’s invitation to visit him in L.A. Calls to the congressman’s office Monday were not returned.
-- Robert Faturechi