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Dean Heller gets lost in translation

Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.)
Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.)Associated Press

It's become quite common for candidates to publish two versions of their campaign website -- one in English and one in Spanish -- especially in states with large Latino populations. It's not surprising, then, Nevada's appointed senator, Republican Dean Heller, maintains a site in each language.

What is surprising is that Heller and his campaign team are trying to pull a fast one, putting out one message on immigration policy in English, and a more forgiving message in Spanish. The Las Vegas Sun reported today:

The Heller campaign ... has set up a Spanish-language website, It is not as robust as the English-language version but does have a summary statement about the candidate.

On both sites, information can be found on Heller's stance on immigration, including similar sections that address the convoluted immigration system.... Yet, only the English-language site addresses Heller's stance on border security and illegal immigration.

"Businesses who knowingly hire illegal immigrants should be held accountable," the English site states. "Dean also believes border patrol must also have the resources necessary to end the flow of illegal immigrants into the United States and opposes amnesty for those who enter America illegally."

Many years ago, before the advent of modern media and communications, it was fairly common for candidates to play fast and loose like this, delivering a message to voters in one area, then traveling to a new area and delivering the opposite message. More often than not, voters were none the wiser.

Heller is putting a new twist on an old trick, offering one aggressive message in English, while quietly offering a more moderate and accommodating message in Spanish.

Wait, it gets worse.


Heller, through his statements and votes in Congress, has consistently supported limiting or eliminating the ability to conduct government business in any language other than English. Heller has sponsored legislation to limit election ballots to English-only, to mandate that the Free Application for Federal Student Aid only be filled out in English and to make English the official national language. Heller also supported a bill to end birthright citizenship.

On his Spanish-language website, however, his statement indicated concern over Nevada students whose first language is not English.

"No doubt, education is the path to success. Many children in Nevada have the double challenge of getting a good education while still learning to become proficient in English," the site says in Spanish. "Dean has worked for many years to develop quality education, which offers families and communities the resources they need to serve their children."

Heller apparently assumed no one who speaks both languages would stop to read both sites.