Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) has reportedly appointed a convicted criminal as senior adviser to his Senate exploratory committee.
Chuck Rocha will reportedly counsel Gallego as he weighs a run to replace Senator Kyrsten Sinema (I., Ariz.).
Rocha, who would be in charge of Gallego’s Latino outreach efforts, was sentenced to 24 months probation and a $2,000 fine in 2013 after pleading guilty to embezzling funds from the United Steelworkers International Union, where he was political director. Rocha acknowledged to using a union credit card to pay for golf trips and Stanley Cup tickets in 2008 and 2009.
After joining Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign in 2016, several leftists expressed worry over Rocha’s criminal background.
According to critics, Rocha’s crime weakened Sanders’ support for labor unions.
Rocha stated before his sentence in 2013 that his consultancy firm had “essentially cratered” as a result of his indictment, but it has since recovered thanks to lucrative contracts with Democrats.
According to Federal Election Commission records, the Democratic National Committee paid Rocha’s business, Solidarity Strategies, more than $830,000 for a range of consulting services during the past election cycle.
A key labor union, the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry, donated $100,000 to Rocha’s political action committee, Nuestro PAC, last year.
Gallego’s Congressional Hispanic Caucus Bold PAC reportedly also provided $50,000 to Nuestro PAC and $13,000 to Solidarity Strategies last year.
Gallego’s campaign also paid Solidarity Strategies $18,000 in August for text marketing and phone calls.
Gallego is considered by many observers to be a frontrunner to challenge Senator Krysten Sinema from the left during her 2024 reelection, in spite of the fact that he has yet to officially announce his candidacy.