Strippers, guns, gangsters? It may be the norm for Tony Soprano, but as political ads go, this one may just have gone too far.
Late Wednesday, Democratic congressional candidate Janice Hahn from California's 36th District released a statement calling for an Federal Election Commission investigation into a possible link between her opponent's campaign and an ad by the political action committee Turn Right USA that blasts her, using a barrage of "gangsters," strippers and guns to try to portray her as soft on criminals and as someone who uses taxpayer dollars to put gang members back on the streets.
The Republican in the race, Craig Huey, was quick to distance himself from the video, which he says is not affiliated with his campaign.
The video mentions it was not authorized, and Huey released a statement saying as much: "The ad was not authorized and not affiliated with my campaign. The ad is blatantly racist, and sexist and neither racism nor sexism has any place in the public sphere."
Despite all the denials, Hahn's campaign called for an FEC investigation, because the Turn Right USA PAC shares an address in a retail center with an independent consulting firm called CampaignLA, which was listed in Huey's FEC filings. In addition, Hahn's campaign alleges that the domain name used by Turn Right USA (www.turnrightusa.org) was purchased for them by CampaignLA.
"If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, acts like a duck—it's a duck," said Hahn campaign manager Dave Jacobson of the domain addresses.
In another statement Jacobson went on to say, "There are literally millions of post office boxes where Turn Right USA could have set up their phony political location. I'm not a statistician, but I think I have a better chance of winning the Super Lotto Jackpot than these two Pro-Huey political groups have of winding up in the exact same address by accident," said Dave Jacobson, Hahn's campaign manager.
In response to the Hahn campaign calling for an FEC investigation, the Huey campaign released a statement late Wednesday saying, "It just came to our attention in the last hour that a rogue vendor who sold 100 yard signs to our campaign in March shares an address with people who may have been involved in some way in the vile and racist "ad" circulating on the Internet. We have had no contact with this vendor since March and completely disavow and condemn their actions, if they were in fact involved in the ad."
The statement continued: They "have stated repeatedly over the last 24 hours that this ad is greatly offensive and [they] had no involvement whatsoever in its production or distribution."
Reached by phone late last night, the producer of the video and one of Turn Right USA's founders, Ladd Ehlinger Jr., reiterated the Huey campaign's denials, telling ABC news that these charges are "silly," and released a statement explaining that the charges are "patently false," and that one of the other founders of Turn Right USA, G. Rick Marshall, "had volunteered for Craig Huey on his primary campaign, but left over its strategic direction."
Saying that G. Rick Marshall had mentioned Hahn and gangs, Ehlinger said, "He wasn't sure Huey would make it an issue. After research, [Ehlinger] decided it could be parodied by a controversial rap video featuring Hahn as an incompetent exotic dancer, letting her audience take money away from her,"
The two then decided to found TRUSA PAC to make these types of videos regularly.
It still remains to be seen what will come of Hahn's complaint to the FEC.
The special election to fill the seat vacated by Jane Harman in late February takes place July 12. California's 36th district is heavily Democratic and consists mainly of the coastal towns near Los Angeles.