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KeyWiki.org Page: http://keywiki.org/Barbara_Lee
Election Facts for 2014:
• Party – Democrat
• State – California
• Location – California 13
• First Elected – 1998
• Candidates in 2014:
Barbara Lee – D
Justin Jelincic – D
Dakin Sundeen – R
Lawrence Allen – Peace and Freedom
Art Moore – R
Barbara Jean Lee is a Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives, representing the 13th District of California.
She currently serves as Congressional Progressive Caucus Whip and on the Executive Board of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus. She is a member of, and past Chair of, the Congressional Black Caucus.
Born in 1946 in El Paso, Texas, Barbara Lee spent her teenage years in San Fernando, California. She was educated at Mills College and earned a Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of California at Berkeley in 1975.
Lee’s radicalism dates at least to the early 1970s, when she was a confidential aide to Black Panther Party “Minister of Defense,” Huey Newton.
Barbara Lee was inspired to a political career while a campaign worker for Shirley Chisholm’s 1972 presidential campaign. Chisholm was the first black woman to enter Congress. Chisholm had a long history of Communist Party USA (CPUSA) front affiliation, but entered Congress through the Democratic Party in New York’s 11th District.
Lee was elected to Congress in 1998 in California’s 9th District after the retirement of her former boss Rep. Ron Dellums. The District is now redrawn as the 13th District.
Lee is the most senior Democratic woman on the House International Relations Committee. She has sponsored legislation disavowing the preemptive war doctrine and led bipartisan efforts to end the genocide in Darfur.
Barbara Lee serves on the House Committee on Appropriations, which includes the Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies and the Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs. She also serves on the House Committee on The Budget and the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee.
Lee is the Senior Democratic Whip, she is the Chair on the Social Work Caucus, the Vice-Chair on the LGBT Equality Caucus, the Co-Chair on the Out-of-Poverty Caucus, the Co-Chair on the Congressional HIV/AIDS Caucus, the Co-Chair on the Congressional Sudan Caucus, the Co-Chair on the Health Care Task Force and the Co-Chair on the Peace and Security Task Force.
While most California Democrats initially supported Hillary Clinton, in December 2008, California Congresswoman Barbara Lee became the first California Democrat to endorse Barack Obama.
Lee wrote on December 10, 2008 in the Huffington Post:
I wanted to share some exciting news with you, as today I announced my endorsement of Senator Barack Obama for President of the United States.
Like so many Americans, I first heard Senator Obama when he delivered his electrifying speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston. Deep down, I knew I’d witnessed history in the making.
Barack Obama represents a bridge to the future. He embodies the hope and new direction that our country so desperately needs. As I’ve watched Senator Obama campaign for the presidency, I am convinced that he is a real agent of change; a man who can lead our nation in a new and positive direction.
This century cries for social, environmental, diplomatic, global, and neighborhood solutions to the misery that confronts far too many people in our own country and around the globe. I share Senator Obama’s vision and active commitment to building a society based on activism, progressive values and a keen sense that we must act now and outside of the usual bounds of partisanship and expediency.
Barbara Lee has extensive ties to two Communist groups – Communist Party USA (CPUSA) and its spinoff, Committees of Correspondence.
Both Lee and her boss, Rep. Ron Dellums, were encouraged to enter politics by long-time Berkeley Councilwoman and CPUSA supporter, Maudelle Shirek. Another key influence on Lee was Bay Area doctor and publisher, Carlton Goodlett, a long-time Communist Party member.
Still another was Bay Area radical, Yvonne Scarlett-Golden.
In 2006, Barbara Lee released the following statement in response to the news that Daytona Beach Mayor and long-time San Francisco resident, Yvonne Scarlett-Golden, had died of cancer at the age of 80:
Yvonne Scarlett-Golden was a friend to me and an inspiration to many. As the first African-American Mayor of Daytona Beach, she knew about breaking down barriers, and the fact that she came to politics after a full career as a teacher and school administrator is a testament to her determination to serve.
I first met Yvonne when she was the principal of Alamo Park High School in San Francisco in the 1970’s. I remember very well attending peace conferences with Yvonne, the late Alameda County Supervisor John George, former Berkeley City Council member Maudelle Shirek, and the late Carlton Goodlett, publisher of the Sun Reporter Newspaper, all of whose lives were totally committed to peace and justice. Yvonne was never afraid of controversy, and she was outspoken for what she believed in. We will miss her. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family.
Both Maudelle Shirek and Yvonne Scarlett-Golden went on to join Committees of Correspondence after the Communist Party split in 1991.
1980’s U.S. Peace Council Executive Board
Barbara Lee was an Executive Board member of the U.S. Peace Council from 1983 to 1985. An affiliate of the Soviet front World Peace Council, the U.S. body was run by the CPUSA. Lee served alongside several known Communist Party members including Sara Staggs, Rob Prince, Michael Myerson, James Jackson, Atiba Mbiwan, Pauline Rosen and Denise Young; as well as several known party sympathizers including Alice Palmer, who would go on to become a political mentor to Barack Obama in Chicago.
People’s Weekly World Banquet 1997
Elected officials attending the Communist Party’s 1997 Bay Area People’s Weekly World Banquet at His Lordship’s Berkeley Marina, included State Senator Barbara Lee, Assemblywoman Liz Figueroa, Alemeda County Board of Supervisors President Keith Carson and Berkeley Vice Mayor and City Council member, Maudelle Shirek.
Endorsed Communist Party 1999 PWW Fundraiser
In September 1999, Rep. Barbara Lee co-sponsored a Communist Party fundraising event in Berkeley.
People’s Weekly World (September 11, 1999)
PWW 2001 Banquet
Keynote speaker Eliseo Medina, Democratic Socialists of America leader and SEIU International Executive Vice President, received a standing ovation at the People’s Weekly World Banquet in Berkeley on Nov. 18, 2001, when he sharply criticized Republicans for “killing an economic stimulus program that would have benefited working families.”
Instead, Medina said they substituted measures that are actually, “aid to our favorite dependent corporations.”
In addition to Medina, the banquet honored the East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy, the Middle East Children’s Alliance and Sacramento Activists for Democratic Trade. The event raised $11,000 for the 2001 fund drive.
Honorees received certificates of Congressional recognition by the office of Rep. Barbara Lee; the event took place in her District. Lee’s greeting was presented by her aide, Saundra Andrews.
“At this time of crisis, when world peace hangs in the balance and the rights of immigrants are under attack,” Lee’s statement said, “it is more important than ever that our community come together to honor the work and legacy of those who struggle to advance the cause of peace and justice for working people everywhere.”
PWW 2002 Banquet
In a spirited tribute, the Northern California People’s Weekly World Banquet on Oct. 13, 2002, honored “the heroes and heroines of the struggle against corporate greed,” and called for a big turnout against Republican “Bush-clones” in the Nov. 5th election. The banquet raised $8,000 for the PWW fund drive.
In her opening, Berkeley Vice Mayor, Maudelle Shirek, spoke of the growing movements in solidarity with West Coast Port Workers and against war. “So there is hope,” she said, “…and a new movement that we must help nurture and grow.”
That movement includes the bloc in Congress that voted against the Bush war resolution and those who supported Rep. Barbara Lee’s peace resolution.
Banquet honorees each received certificates from Rep. Lee.
On September 3, 2003, Congresswoman Barbara Lee introduced H.R. 3000, the United States Universal Health Service Act, which would provide health coverage for all Americans. H.R. 3000 would establish a United States Health Service, which “would eliminate profit issues from health care because it would be owned and controlled by the public and administered primarily at the local level.”
“The United States is the only industrialized nation in the world that does not provide universal health care,” said Lee. “We must become a health care provider, not a denier of this fundamental right.”
The Communist Party USA’s People’s World commented on Lee’s proposal:
We will not win the United States Health Service without a massive, prolonged struggle by working people against the corporate defenders of the current for-profit health care industry.
PWW 2004 Banquet
The “mood was both joyous and determined” as Northern California supporters of the People’s Weekly World/Nuestro Mundo gathered Oct. 8, 2004, in Oakland to celebrate their favorite newspaper and to rededicate themselves to the banquet’s theme — “Beat back Bush!”
The “full-house, rainbow crowd honored leaders and organizations from the labor, anti-war, Cuba and Haiti solidarity movements and enjoyed a rich cultural program.” Honorees received certificates of appreciation from area Congresswoman Barbara Lee and from Friends of the People’s Weekly World.
PWW 2006 Event
Barbara Lee was involved in a function organized for the People’s Weekly World in Oakland, California on December 3, 2006, as was Communist Party supporter, peace activist, Jacqueline Cabasso.
“December 3rd was a day the People’s Weekly World can be proud of. Still celebrating the results of the November 7th elections, readers held banquets and dinners in various places across the country, attracting elected officials, leaders of people’s movements and rank-and-file fighters for justice and democracy…”
Other honored guests included anti-nuclear-weapons leader Jackie Cabasso, the Blue Diamond Workers Organizing Committee and two Sacramento-based immigrant rights coalitions. All received certificates from U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee.
Support from Democratic Socialists of America
San Francisco Bay Area Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) supported Barbara Lee’s sole dissenting vote in Congress after the 9/11 attacks:
The DSA national convention passed a resolution condemning the September 11 attacks, supporting in principle the selective use of multilateral armed force, and calling for a halt to the bombing. Its text, along with previous statements by DSA on the war, will presumably be available at the national web site soon. The Sacramento local and the anti-racism commission issued a prior statement, also available as an MS Word document. The East Bay local will be working for the re-election of Barbara Lee, the sole member of Congress to oppose a resolution granting sweeping, vaguely specified war powers to our illegitimate President.
DSA Supported Vaccines Compensation Bill
Democratic Socialists of America backed Dennis Kucinich nationally with his 2002 HR2459 Vaccines Compensation bill. Lynn Woolsey and Barbara Lee both co-sponsored Kucinich’s bill.
According to the minutes of a January 5, 2002, SF DSA Steering Committee meeting:
According to a (fundraising) call from DSA, supporting HR2459 is a national DSA project. The idea is to contact representatives about co-sponsoring the bill, which comes from Dennis Kucinich and is supported by the progressive caucus. Everyone said they would contact their rep. (neither Pelosi nor Lantos has signed on; Woolsey and Lee are co-sponsors).
Democratic Left Issue (1998) p. 6
“Making Trouble – Building a Radical Youth Movement” was held on April 17-19, 1998, in Berkeley, California:
“Making Trouble” is a conference for young radicals from all over California to meet, form coalitions, and get informed. We will focus on the Prison Industrial Complex and the contemporary Labor Movement, but there will also be workshops on Environmental Justice, the Unz initiative, Art and Revolution, Immigration, Third World Organizing, Economic Globalization, Affirmative Action, Reproductive Rights, and much more.
The Keynote speaker was DSA leader Barbara Ehrenreich.
Invited speakers included DSAers Dolores Huerta, Cornel West and Rep. Ron Dellums, as well as radical leader Tom Hayden, Committees of Correspondence activist Angela Davis and Rep. Barbara Lee.
One time DSA member Nancy Skinner was a Field Manager for Barbara Lee’s 2002 Congressional campaign.
Nancy Skinner went on to found ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, an organization dedicated to helping local governments around the world become environmental leaders. As Executive Director of ICLEI’s U.S. office, Nancy Skinner launched the Cities for Climate Protection program — the U.S. movement of mayors and cities working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that now involves over 500 U.S. cities and counties. This is often known as Agenda 21.
Skinner is now a Democratic California State Representative.
21st Century Democrats
On July 28, 2010, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Congressman Elijah Cummings and Obama’s communist former “Green Jobs Czar,” Van Jones, spoke about the future of American politics at the kick-off event for 21st Century Democrats’ 2010 Youth Leadership Speaker Series. The event was sponsored by Representative John Lewis and Senator Tom Harkin.
21st Century Democrats was led by one-time DSAer, Jim Scheibel.
Committees of Correspondence Connections
At the Committees of Correspondence founding conference in Berkeley, California on July 17-19, 1992, Barbara Lee was a candidate for the Committees of Correspondence National Coordinating Committee, while serving as a Democratic California State Assembly person.
CoC National Coordinating Committee Member
In 1993, Barbara Lee was an official member of the Committee of Correspondence’s leadership body, the National Coordinating Committee.
When this was publicly exposed, the organization stopped publishing the names of its officers. It is not known when, if ever, Barbara Lee left the Committees of Correspondence.
Take Back America Conferences
Barbara Lee was on the list of 153 speakers at the 2006 Take Back America conference, which was organized by the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) and DSA–initiated Campaign for America’s Future.
She was back in 2007.
America’s Future Now!
Barbara Lee was one of the 148 speakers who addressed the Take Back America’s succeeding America’s Future Now Conference on June 7-9, 2010, in Washington, D.C.
Africa Action Connection
In 2009, Barbara Lee served on the Board of Directors of the far left Institute for Policy Studies partner organization, Africa Action.
Leading with Love
Leading with Love was an event to celebrate 5 years of the Marxist-led IPS partnered National Domestic Workers Alliance. It was held in Washington, D.C. on November 14, 2012.
Rep. Barbara Lee served on the Host Committee.
Progressive Democrats of America
Barbara Lee serves on the Advisory Board of the IPS/DSA-led Progressive Democrats of America.
Progressive Democrats of America 2012 Endorsement
In 2012, Barbara Lee was one of 14 leftist Congressional and Senate candidates endorsed by Progressive Democrats of America.
Foreign Policy/National Security
World Peace Council
Barbara Lee told The Progressive magazine that her life was influenced by the late Carlton Goodlett, a dedicated Stalinist and served in the leadership of the international Soviet front, the World Peace Council. He used a newspaper he owned to spread Soviet disinformation and to promote KGB forgeries. In 1981, Lee wrote to the World Peace Council asking that the Soviet front pay for air tickets for California Rep. Ron Dellums and two staffers to attend one of their conferences.
Supported by Council for a Livable World
Barbara Lee has enjoyed the financial support of Council for a Livable World, founded by reported Soviet agent, Leo Szilard, which seeks to “reduce the danger of nuclear weapons and increase national security,” primarily through supporting progressive, Congressional candidates who support their policies.
No to Use of Force After 9/11
Barbara Lee was the only member of Congress to vote against the resolution broadly authorizing President Bush’s use of force after 9/11.
Department of Peace
Speaking to a crowd of 200 peace activists on March 11, 2002, in Oakland, California, Reps. Barbara Lee and Communist party affiliate Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) took the occasion to condemn the Bush administration’s plans to target seven nations with nuclear weapons.
“To think that the nuclear option is on the table as a viable strategy is terrifying,” said Lee. “We must keep peace out there as an option.”
Kucinich declared, “We have a crisis in the country – a crisis in the lack of belief in the power of peace. The Bush plan,” he said, “challenges America morally. It raises the question of what America stands for.” Both statements were warmly applauded by the audience gathered to hear about a proposed Cabinet-level Peace Office initiated by Lee and Kucinich.
They were joined in their stand by Communist Party affiliated activist Jackie Cabasso, spokesperson for the People’s Non-Violent Response Coalition, organizer of the event, who said, “The U.S. position needs to be condemned today, immediately! We need a Department of Peace, but we need some interim measures in the meantime.” The PNVRC was formed in the wake of the events of Sept. 11 to promote non-violence as the answer to terrorism.
The bill (HR2459) that would set up the Department of Peace was introduced in Congress on July 11, 2001 by Kucinich; at that point there were 61 co-sponsors, including Lee.
The bill would order the federal government to set up a $3 billion a year agency with a Secretary of Peace who would be a member of the President’s Cabinet and seven assistant secretaries. The mission of the Department would include: hold peace as an organizing principle; endeavor to promote justice and democratic principles to expand human rights; develop policies that promote national and international conflict prevention; non-violent intervention; mediation; peaceful resolution of conflict and structured mediation of conflict.
A national “Peace Day” would be declared as an occasion to urge all citizens to create peace.
An early and outspoken opponent of the Iraq War, Lee repeatedly proposed legislation seeking early U.S. troop withdrawal. In 2007, she successfully blocked funds from being used to establish permanent military bases in Iraq. Her 2008 amendment requiring that any U.S. agreement to defend Iraq be expressly authorized by Congress, or be included in a Senate approved treaty, was stripped from a defense bill under the threat of a veto by President Bush.
Aiding Grenada Communists
Barbara Lee provided counterintelligence support to the Marxist-Leninist regime in Grenada in the 1980s.
In 1982, together with her colleague Carlottia Scott, Lee accompanied her boss, Rep. Ron Dellums, to communist-ruled Grenada. They wrote a report to the House Armed Services Committee in support of an airport being built on the island, which the U.S. government believed could be used by Soviet bombers aimed at America. Dellums, Lee and Scott provided their draft report to the island’s communist leader Maurice Bishop, to vet before they submitted the final copy to the U.S. House of Representatives.
Lee was Dellums’ Administrative Assistant. When she left the job to run for the California legislature in 1987, Scott took her job. When Dellums left Congress in April 1998, Lee won the seat and Carlottia Scott became her Administrative Assistant.
In a handwritten letter to Maurice Bishop addressed to: “My Comrade Leader,” Scott wrote: “Grenada is my home and where my deepest love will always remain. I am sincerely committed and dedicated to Grenada. I feel that now, I will be able to convey in a more comprehensive manner, the thoughts and directions of the PRG [People’s Revolutionary Government of Grenada] which, based on a solid foundation, will, in eccence [sic] help to keep the REVO [revolution] up in North America.”
Lee later opposed the U.S.-led ouster of Grenadian General Hudson Austin, who had murdered Maurice Bishop, his former ally, in a coup just days before.
Documents now stored in the national Archives show the extent of Lee’s support for the Grenadan revolution.
When Lee received an envelope containing anti-regime material that had been mailed from Bishop’s office, she immediately warned Bishop’s Ambassador to the Organization of American States, Dessima Williams – who immediately informed Maurice Bishop. The memorandum read:
On May 14, 1980, Barbara Lee called to say she had received a piece of anti-PRG [People’s Revolutionary Government] propaganda stamped from the Prime Minister’s Office, post-marked in Grenada. We collected it May 15, and it is herewith attached.
Some obvious questions are: –
What concerns us is: How is it possible for such vicious anti-government propaganda to be mailed and stamped from the Prime Minister’s Office to a friendly Congressional Office?
Barbara says that all those U.S. persons who went to Grenada for The First Anniversary [of the revolution] have been receiving G.I.S. News Releases regularly. Should this be so? To her knowledge, no one else except she has received this particular piece of anti-PRG material.
Please advise us at an early time if this was a known or unknown error; if a conspiracy and/or sabotage, and how to handle it.
Barack Obama’s future Illinois political mentor, Alice Palmer, was one of those invited to the first anniversary celebrations of Grenada’s communist revolution.
Influence on Behalf of the Regime
In a typewritten letter to Bishop on U.S. House of Representatives letterhead, dated April 28, 1982, Scott describes how she and Lee involved Dellums in promoting the Grenadan regime.
Addressed to Bishop as “My Dearest, Just a brief note to let you know that I still love you madly,” Scott wrote:
I really need to talk to you face to face to share some thoughts that Ron [Dellums] has. I don’t know if you realized it or not but Ron has become truly committed to Grenada and has some very positive political thinking to share with you. He feels that he can best be of assistance in a counseling manner and hopes to be able to discuss these thoughts in the near future. He just has to get all to [sic] his thoughts in order as to how your interests can best be served. Ron, as a political thinker, is the best around and Fidel will verify that in no uncertain terms. When matched against the best of them, Ron always comes out ahead (even with Fidel). He is so far ahead of his time that it scares me at times but I have learned to deal with it over the years.
When we left Grenada and arrived in Barbados, we met with what I would call a very ugly American, Ludlow Flowers, the Deputy Ambassador to B’dos from the U.S. In the most awesome exchange of dialogue, Ron battled this ass to the bitter end on U.S. policy toward Grenada. You would have been proud.
Scott described what she, Dellums and Lee were doing to run influence operations in Congress on behalf of the Cuban-backed government: “We are now in the process of pulling together the report for the Armed Services Committee, preparing testimony for the Inter-American Affairs Committee Hearings on Grenada, and in the process of trying to come up with a strategy to bring the U.S. and Grenada to the negotiating table.”
She told Bishop about the report they were authoring about the Cuban-built airstrip at Point Salines:
We hope that this report will serve as a basis for a clear understanding and direct counter to the [Reagan] Administration’s policy based on their militarist lines of thinking. If the issue can be turned around soon, then we hope that all this insane rhetoric will be stopped by the U.S.
That would take some strategizing with Bishop. Scott continued:
However, the specifics need to be mapped out very carefully. This is only part of what Ron needs to discuss with you in as much as this has to be a team effort. (smile) Ron also has some very clear ideas on the best procedure that should be followed on your end if you agree to proceed in such a manner. Oh well, I won’t bore you with all this until we are able to sit down and really discuss it. It is really very hard to put into a coherent statement at this time. As you are well aware I act on emotion a lot of the time and I am very excited about the role that Ron is willing to play after trying to get him to Grenada for so long. I know now that all our efforts have not been in vain.
Dellums’ Chief of Staff then told Bishop that she, the Congressman and Barbara Lee met together in Havana after visiting Grenada:
Ron had a long talk with Barb and me when we got to Havana and cried when he realized that we had been shouldering Grenada alone all this time. Like I said, he’s really hooked on you and Grenada and doesn’t want anything to happen to building the Revo and making it strong. He really admires you as a person and even more so as a leader with courage and foresight, principle and integrity. Believe me, he doesn’t make that kind of statement often about anyone. The only other person that I know of that he expresses such admiration for is Fidel. (I’ve known and worked with Ron for many years and the last time I heard him say something like that was in 1977 after a meeting with Fidel).
Scott then told Bishop about a courier who would bring Dellums’ materials for the hearings to Grenada and wrote of the report on the Point Salines airstrip:
Well sweet, I must run. Am doing this as quickly as possible. Just found out that Kojo (Chris) is leaving in a few minutes for the airport. I just wanted you to know that we need to talk and soon. Am sending copies of Ron[’s] hearings with him. You will be receiving a formal letter of appreciation for the wonderful trip from Ron soon, (As soon as I get around to writing it. (SMILE) but I have to finish this report first.) For the… I really need Selwyn’s speech to use in this report. Peggy said he had the tape and it had not been transcribed yet. Please see if he has found it yet. It could be very important. Even if we don’t use it for the report we could use it for the testimony for the hearings on Grenada in May.
Love you madly and hope to be able to prove it one of these days. Call me soon…
Scott signed her initials, then hand-wrote a postscript: “P.S. This is confidential rap as you well know. Let me know when you or one of the comrades will be taking a trip somewhere in this hemisphere so we can talk. Notice I said this hemisphere. So we can plan to meet and talk. Call me.”
First Cuba Trip
In 1977, Barbara Lee and Ron Dellums were part of a delegation to Cuba, which met with Fidel Castro to “discuss health problems.”
Lee on Cuban “Self-Determination”
The March 21, 1998 edition of the People’s Weekly World, page 16, covered an address by Lee to veterans of the Spanish Civil War’s communist-led Abraham Lincoln Brigade, “Lincoln vets honor Robeson.” “Greetings to the crowd of more than 1,000 were presented by State Senator Barbara Lee, who is a candidate for Congress to succeed the retiring Ron Dellums. Lee condemned the current blockade against Cuba as ‘wrong’ and called for its removal, to be replaced by a ‘normalizing’ of relations with Cuba.”
“The Cuban people,” said Lee, “should be allowed to determine their own course of action in accordance with self-determination.”
1998 Cuba Delegation
In December 1998, newly elected Rep. Barbara Lee hosted an 11 member, five day mission to Cuba. Delegates included far left Oakland City Council members Ignacio De La Fuente, Henry Chang and Jane Brunner, who all paid their own way. On her return, Lee intended to submit a written report to President Bill Clinton and Congress on the delegation’s findings. In October that year, Lee had been one of 17 Members of Congress who sent a letter to Clinton calling for a bipartisan commission to review U.S.-Cuba policy.
1999 Cuba Trip
On February 18 1999, 6 members of the U.S. Congressional Black Caucus visited Cuba to evaluate the U.S.-imposed embargo. Among the visitors were Maxine Waters and Barbara Lee of California, Sheila Jackson-Lee of Texas and Julia Carson of Indiana.
Staffer’s 2004 Trip to Cuba
In May 2004, Julie Nickson from the office of Congresswoman Barbara Lee, spent four days in Havana, Cuba, for the purpose of “fact finding.” The trip cost $1,393.16 and was paid for by the leftist Christopher Reynolds Foundation.
Barbara Lee with Raul Castro
Influencing Obama on Cuba
In early April 2009, Rep. Barbara Lee led a congressional delegation to Havana for a 4½ hour meeting with Raul Castro, telling reporters, “All of us are convinced that President Castro would like normal relations and would see normalization, ending the embargo, as beneficial to both countries.”
Reuters reported that Lee’s delegation “avoided specifics” with Castro, “but were struck by his humor, impressed by his involvement in Third World causes and firm in their belief that he wants to end U.S.-Cuba enmity.”
The meeting between Castro, Lee and five other members of the Congressional Black Caucus took place in secret without the customary presence of a U.S. State Department official. No reporters attended and according to the New York Times, Cuban television, which covered the visit, offered no details of what was said.
Lee says she wanted to influence President Barack Obama prior to the upcoming Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago.
Prior to the trip, Lee told her hometown Oakland Tribune newspaper that the U.S. had to open up to Cuba, but did not demand that the Cuban government open up; she blasted U.S. policy as “based on antiquated Cold War-era thinking.”
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