U.S. Senate Candidate Accused of Closing Santa Ana Plant and Sending Its Jobs to Mexico


A former Santa Ana plastics company is being dragged into the U.S. Senate Republican primary race in New Hampshire.

William Harrison "Bill" Binnie is self-funding his campaign for the seat held by Republican incumbent Judd Gregg, who is retiring from the upper house. Binnie currently serves as president of Carlisle Capital Corp., which closed a plastics subsidiary in Santa Ana and reopened it in Mexico, sending American jobs south, according to a respected author, at least three New Hampshire newspapers and the businessman's political foes.

The candidate's response? Deny, deny, deny.

Bill Binnie accuses journalists of being confused.

The charge was first made in labor journalist

David Bacon

's 2004 book

The Children of NAFTA: Labor Wars on the U.S./Mexico Border

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(University of California Press), which received the prestigious Gustavus Myers Award.

According to the book, Carlisle Plastics closed a factory located in Santa Ana named A&E Plastics in 1989 that employed 450 workers. Production was then transferred to a Carlisle-owned maquiladora in Tijuana named Plásticos BajaCal, according to Bacon, who claims that A&E closed partly in response to attempts by Santa Ana employees to form a union.

(Carlisle Plastics was sold in 1996 to Tyco International--yes, that Tyco Int.)

Binnie denies the allegation and has demanded retractions for stories and subsequent editorials published about the controversy. So far, the Union Leader, Portsmouth Herald and Foster's Daily Democrat of New Hampshire have refused Binnie's demand.

The candidate claims the Santa Ana plant closed due to a lease problem and reopened seven miles away in Orange County's oldest city. Simultaneously--and coincidentally--Carlisle Plastics opened the Tijuana facility, according to Binnie.

But Union Leader reporter Gary Rayno, who broke the original story, cites Binnie's report filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which state in three places the Santa Ana company closed and was relocated to Mexico. Passages like this:

In 1990, the Company relocated a hanger plant facility from Santa Ana, California to a newly constructed facility in Tijuana, Mexico. Management believes that the 60,000 square foot facility in Tijuana, Mexico, which became fully operational in the first quarter of 1991, will significantly lower the division's operating costs.

Binnie claims the New Hampshire newspapers are confusing A&E with a similarly named company in Santa Ana that closed around the same time as Binnie's. Union Leader publisher Joe McQuaid, who wrote more than one editorial about Binnie's alleged jobs move, called that explanation a "whopper."

Meanwhile, the Union Leader has raised other questions about Binnie's tenure at Carlisle Platics, saying it had a long list of labor, safety and environmental protection issues. Working conditions were even worse in Carlisle's maquiladora, according to the paper and the non-profit Human Rights Watch.

Nevertheless, Binnie is the most moderate of the Republican Party candidates seeking the nomination in Tuesday's primary. While saying he personally believes the term marriage should only be applied to the union between a man and woman, Binnie took no issue with

New Hampshire law allowing both same sex and heterosexual couples to marry. He also identifies himself as pro-choice, favors a path to legal citizenship for undocumented immigrants and opposes Arizona's SB 1070.

Meanwhile, Binnie's Republican challenger Ovide Lamontagne has the support of teabaggers, while the GOP establishment and Sarah Palin have lined up behind Kelly Ayotte, who is leading in the pre-election polls.

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