GOP 11th Congressional District primary candidate David Harmer has answered an opponent’s nasty mailer with a trio of his own fliers, a clear departure from his repeated vows to avoid negative campaigning.
Harmer targeted Elizabeth Emken, a former autism advocate from Danville, in three mailers that contain — just as hers did — a mix of truth and distortion. (See one of the mailers at the bottom of this post.)
The mailer earned Harmer, a Dougherty Valley attorney, a sharp and unusual public rebuke from Frank Aquila, leader of the South San Joaquin County Republican Club. (FYI, this is not an official GOP central committee but a group formed by Aquila.)
“While each candidate has the right to attack another for positions on particular issues, I am disturbed and disappointed in a recent mailer put out by the Harmer campaign against Elizabeth Emken,” Aquila wrote in his e-mail newsletter. “The Harmer mailer says Elizabeth Emken is falsely attacking David Harmer; but the mailing itself is, in fact, a false attack against Elizabeth Emken.”
Aquila refers specifically to the prominent use of logos of the California Republican Assembly and the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, which implies that these groups produced or sanctioned the mailers.
Both groups have endorsed Harmer but his campaign paid for the mailers.
Here is a sample of other assertions in the mailers and their veracity:
What it says: Emken “attack(ed) opponent’s religion.”
Is it true? It depends on your definition of “attack.”
Two Emken mailers included images of an article in the Mormon Times about Harmer’s plan to enter the race. The article also contained statements about how Harmer was inspired to run by “the Spirit” and references to a revered Mormon religious figure, Captain Moroni.
Harmer’s campaign called it an intentional act designed to highlight his religion.
Emken denied it. It is Harmer, she said, who is displaying religious intolerance through his “baseless accusation.”
“David Harmer’s decision to inject religion into this race by clearly distorting my mail piece is the low point of this campaign,” she said. “I quoted a reputable news source, providing evidence of Harmer’s carpetbagging ambition to run in a district he doesn’t live in, almost immediately after losing in the district next door.”
What it says: “Emken is a former Washington, D.C., lobbyist who spent much of her career fighting for government health care mandates and government health care funding.”
Is it true? Yes although her focus was solely on autism.
Emken was a registered lobbyist for Autism Speaks, a not-for-profit group that advocates for greater awareness and treatment of children and adults with autism.
As its lobbyist, Emken successfully advocated for the passage of the 2000 Advancement in Pediatric Autism Research Act and the 2006 Combating Autism Act, which dedicated $1 billion in the federal budget over five years for autism research and education.
She also worked to pass legislation in 15 states including Florida and Pennsylvania that bar insurance company discrimination against certain autism treatments and boosted government spending on autism intervention programs.
What it says: “ … Emken worked to pass portions of the ObamaCare health care takeover and her organization praised ObamaCare’s passage.”
Is it true? Yes. Emken successfully lobbied for an amendment to the recently adopted health care legislation that banned insurance company discrimination against autism treatments.
Autism Now applauded the passage of the health care bill on its Web site.
Emken, however, has consistently opposed the legislative package during her campaign and has said would work to repeal it even if it means reversal of her amendment.
What it says: “Washington, D.C., special interests are funding Elizabeth Emken’s attacks …” It also calls her a “Washington insider.”
Is it true? It depends on what you consider a special interest and an insider.
As of March 31, 66 percent of her contributions had come from outside California, compared with 8.6 percent for Harmer. Those percentages may have changed since the last reporting period, but our tech is still working on loading the newest numbers into our database.)
As for the insider tag, if an insider is an incumbent, none of the four GOP primary candidates qualify. If an insider is a person who has worked or lobbied in Washington, D.C., then all four earned the title.
Harmer worked for a U.S. Senate committee, a member of Congress and conservative think tanks in Washington, D.C. Former U.S. Marshal Tony Amador held a Washington, D.C.-based assignment. And Brad Goehring, a Lodi area farmer, is the California Farm Bureau’s national spokesman on several issues.
What it says: Quotes her saying, “There may have to be a federal mandate to achieve necessary reform.”
Is it true? Yes, she said it, but it lacks context. Emken made the statement in the New York Daily News. It refers specifically to her drive to end insurance company discrimination against some treatments of children with autism.
Here is one of the mailers: