Monday, August 21, 2006

Virginia Foxx's Mexican Hat Dance

NC-5 Congresswoman Virginia Foxx will get herself down to Gastonia on Friday to grandstand on the illegal immigration problem ... at a "field hearing" staged by Sue Myrick and Patrick McHenry to rev up the conservative base. Nothing new there.

Madam Foxx will tell you that she wants to stop illegal immigration. She will also tell you that every last Mexican working for her family business, Grandfather Mountain Nursery and Landscaping, is totally legal. Translation: "I'm not even embarrassed that I can stir up prejudice against Hispanic workers in this country while simultaneously profitting (mightily) from their hard labor."

Not that her Hispanic workers aren't all perfectly legal. But then, who knows for sure? There are persistent rumors and some pretty solid anecdotal evidence shared by people whose jobs are at stake, not least among them current Hispanic workers for the Foxx family who fear loss of livelihood not to mention deportation. It's a nice system of servitude, that the rich member of Congress gets to make politics out of the fear of illegal immigration among her constituents, while depending on the fear her own employees have about losing their jobs.

Grandfather Mountain Nursery & Landscaping ... Even though Foxx's daughter & son-in-law now technically own part of the business, Virginia Foxx continues to claim ownership of all of it. As recently as May 2006, Foxx told "The Hill" newspaper that "she and her husband, Tom, have owned Grandfather Mountain Nursery and Landscaping, at the foot of Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina, for almost 30 years."

Grandfather Mountain Nursery was founded by the congresswoman's husband. After they married, Ms. Foxx joined the business. About the time Ms. Foxx got more heavily involved in politics in 1994, achieving a N.C. Senate seat, both she and her husband began to turn parts of the business over to their daughter and her husband, particularly the garden center. The daughter and son-in-law incorporated the garden center in 1998 as Ozdemir Inc. Meanwhile, Congresswoman Foxx, listed as "Vice President/Secretary" of Foxx Family Inc., with her husband Tom as president, still describes her business as "landscape installation and maintenance."

Both Ozdemir Inc. and Foxx Family Inc. rely heavily on Hispanic employees.

Tellingly, the Ozdemir Inc. garden center address given on official documents (11468 Hwy 105) is the same address given for Foxx Family Inc. That address, 11468 Hwy 105, is the current address listed in the telephone book for Grandfather Mountain Nursery and Garden Center but is also given on a variety of official documents for Thomas A. Foxx, for Virginia Foxx, for Ozdemir Inc., and for Foxx Family Inc.

There's virtually a Foxx family compound on Hwy 105. Though 11468 seems to be the prime operations center, 11470 is most often given by Hispanic employees as their "home address," with 11466 and 10982 Hwy 105 also listed as satellite properties involved in the overall family enterprise.

In other words, while the Foxx progeny may technically own parts of the empire, Virginia Foxx and her husband still appear very much in psychological if not physical control of it.

Only, not so much in the summer of 1999, when a "resident alien" employee of Grandfather Mountain Nursery got drunk on the job, drove left of center in a Grandfather Mtn Nursery pickup on Hwy 105, and hit head-on a Watauga County woman and her son, nor in the subsequent lawsuit in 2002-2003 when the woman victim in the traffic accident sued Grandfather Mountain Nursery for damages. This suit occurred at the very time Virginia Foxx was beginning her sixth term in the N.C. Senate and deciding to run for higher office. The fact that neither she nor the Foxx name became publicly associated with this lawsuit, considering Foxx's strident anti-immigrant bona fides today, seems most fortuitous if not calculated. The lawsuit was settled out of court by the insurance company, and the judge obligingly sealed the two videotaped depositions by Foxx's daughter and son-in-law, transcripts which we have nevertheless obtained.

TOMORROW: The lawsuit detailed.

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