Sheriff' Lee Baca was one of more than 100 Los Angeles officials and dignitaries in Washington, D.C. this week to lobby for more federal dollars for the region. But on Wednesday he found himself in a shouting match with Republican Congressman Mark Souder of Indiana over the lawman's support of a group called the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).
Opponents of the organization allege that its founders have ties to the anti-Israeli terror group Hamas; but mostly CAIR stands up for the civil rights of Muslim-Americans and calls out those who say stupid, anti-Islamic things. At a Homeland Security subcommittee meeting on maintaining good relations with the Muslim community, Souder questioned Baca's attendance of ten CAIR events. Baca fired back, according to KPCC's Kitty Felde:
” … I'll be there 10 more times,” Baca said. ” … For you to associate me somehow through some circuitous attack on CAIR, is not only inappropriate, it is un-American.”
Souder called CAIR one of the Muslim groups that “do speech that is radical.” Felde reported that Baca mentioned his service in the military and his many years in law enforcement: He seemed to take the congressman's questioning as an affront to his patriotism.
Later, Baca told Felde that “when a member of Congress is that misinformed, you gotta question whether or not they understand what their constitutional obligations are when it comes to public safety.”