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Inauguration donation snubbed by GOP

Jan. 20, 2005 at 11:45 AM

WASHINGTON, Jan. 20 (UPI) -- An inauguration sponsorship offered by Miami's Cuban-American National Foundation, once a power in Republican politics, has been snubbed by the GOP.

Despite the setback, 24 members of the foundation paid $250 each to attend the Grand Hispanic Gala at a hotel near the White House, The Miami Herald reported Wednesday.

"Did you ever doubt we'd be here? We're here to celebrate democracy," said foundation President Francisco "Pepe" Hernandez.

The Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute, headed by Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, a Miami Republican, had rejected the offer of sponsorship.

Diaz-Balart said the foundation's participation was not welcome.

In recent years, the foundation has softened its traditional hard line towards U.S. treatment of Cuba and lost influence with Republicans.

Former Executive Director Joe Garcia left the foundation last fall to campaign against Bush, which apparently rankled many Cuban Republicans including Diaz-Balart.

But Diaz-Balart said the foundation members were as welcome as any other ticket holders at Wednesday night's event, they just couldn't be sponsors.

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