Daniel Garza, executive director of the conservative LIBRE Initiative, which has been highly critical of both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, has been approached for a job within the Trump administration should he win, three sources told BuzzFeed News.
Garza has privately told people that he believes Trump is going to win and that he was approached to gauge his interest in joining a possible Trump administration, to which he is not closed off, despite public criticism of Trump's rhetoric and policy concerning immigration.
A Trump official said they had no knowledge of the overtures, but a separate source overheard a Trump staffer discussing Garza as a possible administration fit at the first presidential debate.
On a phone call, Garza would only say that LIBRE has remained neutral in the presidential race and declined to comment further.
In a later statement, he said "it will be critical for [the next president] to reach out to the Latino community in order to address our very real concerns with the direction of this nation, and assure that their administration's executive staff and cabinet appointees reflect the diversity of America." He added that his current role allows him to advocate for conservative principles and educate Latinos about the merits of small government.
Much has been made of how Trump has upended the Republican Party and a key part of that is the raw rift he has cause between Hispanic conservatives and the party.
In a March interview with BuzzFeed News before Trump secured the nomination, Garza himself said he would not serve as a surrogate for him on Spanish-language networks, like many other experienced Latino Republicans who have refused.
“I’m a surrogate for conservative free market ideas, so because of that, that’s my way of saying no,” he said at the time. “I would like to think someone wouldn’t sell out their principles just to be his surrogate.”
In August, Florida's Republican Party spokesman Wadi Gaitan left the party to go work for LIBRE because he was uncomfortable working to elect Trump.
Democrats and Latino advocates blasted Garza for being open to joining Trump after publicly criticizing him.
"I would be very surprised if someone like Daniel who claims he wants the best for the Latino community would take the opportunity to work with him," said Mi Familia Vota executive director Ben Monterroso, who works to register Latino voters.
Monterroso said that as Latino leaders, working with someone that has insulted Hispanics the way Trump has, would be a nonstarter. "I’m not Daniel — I wouldn’t do it — simply because I do not think we can assume that any of us in the Latino community will have an impact with this guy."
"It just shows that all these people are all veneer and no substance underneath," said Democratic strategist Jose Parra, who served as senior advisor to Sen. Harry Reid.
"[Trump] doesn’t listen to anyone, don’t give me the crap that you’ll be able to influence policy. Ask Helen Aguirre how that’s going," he said, of the RNC's Hispanic media director who first opposed Trump before helping to create his Hispanic advisory council, which has floundered, been the source of controversy within the campaign, and seen defections.
Alfonso Aguilar, a Hispanic conservative leader who heads the American Principles Project's Latino Partnership, and served with Garza in the George W. Bush administration, said that what likely happened is that members of Chris Christie's transition team "know him, identified him, and may have reached out to him — but it doesn’t mean he would be appointed."
Aguilar said that If Trump wins there will likely be a "political vetting," explaining that it was understood when Bush won, that anyone who had supported Sen. John McCain over Bush had no future in the administration. "I don’t think they’re going to consider anyone who has opposed Trump," he said. "If it happened with George Bush and George Bush was not hypersensitive, it will definitely happen with Trump."
But he explained that it was not a bad idea to have someone within the potential administration like Garza who has been a champion of comprehensive immigration legislation and could help begin the process of shining Trump's bruised image with the Hispanic community.
"If Trump becomes president I don’t think we should become permanent adversaries, if he becomes president I wouldn’t close the door," Aguilar said.
Still, those like Monterroso who have watched Garza take principled stands against Trump and Clinton, said they just couldn't imagine working in a Trump administration.
"There is heaven and hell in the bible and I prefer to stay away from hell if I can," Monterroso said, before hanging up the phone.