UPDATE: Turn Right USA's domain name was registered by Huey's vendor. More below.
Councilwoman Janice Hahn alleged a link today between her opponent, conservative Craig Huey, and an inflammatory YouTube video that depicts her as a stripper.
Huey has said he had nothing to do with the video, and went a step further in denouncing it today, calling it “blatantly racist and sexist.”
Hahn's campaign, meanwhile, is calling for an FEC investigation into
whether the video producer, Ladd Ehlinger, coordinated illegally with
the Huey campaign.
Hahn's campaign noted that the video was produced by Turn Right USA, which has a mailbox at a Gardena check cashing business. A vendor that produced lawn signs for Huey, Campaign L.A., used to have a box at the same address.
“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 winding up in the exact same address by accident,” said Dave Jacobson, Hahn's spokesman.
A clerk who answered the phone at the check cashing business said there are 500 mailboxes there. Campaign L.A. is now listed at a different address in Gardena. A person who answered the phone there said the firm had no involvement in the video.
“I have no clue what you're talking about,” he said, before hanging up.
The Huey campaign, meanwhile, took steps to distance itself from the video and from Turn Right USA. The group's “designated agent,” Torrance gadfly G. Rick Marshall, was quickly removed from the list of supporters on Huey's website. The Huey campaign said it would also remove Claude Todoroff, the PAC's treasurer.
Huey also personally issued a statement condemning the ad:
The ad was not authorized and not affiliated with my campaign. Whether people agree with my politics or not, anyone who knows me can attest to the fact that I would not participate in something of this nature. The ad is blatantly racist and sexist and neither racism nor sexism has any place in the public sphere. I have spent this campaign focusing on the issues that matter to our district: jobs, taxes and the national debt.
Huey also accused Hahn and her allies of “dragging this campaign into the dirt” by focusing attention on the video.
Hahn's campaign issued a fund-raising appeal, urging supporters to “help Janice fight back with a $25, $50 or $100 donation.”
It's not clear how much Hahn needs defending. The video has drawn intense attention to the Congressional race, racking up more than 125,000 views, which figures to work in Hahn's favor. Much of the attention has been driven by denunciations from Hahn's allies at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Emily's List and the California Democratic Party.
“It's not helping,” said Jimmy Camp, Huey's campaign manager. “It's distracting everybody from what we should be talking about in this campaign.”
Meanwhile, Ehlinger, who made the video, seems to be having the time of his life. He did a slew of radio interviews today and was invited to appear on Anderson Cooper's show on CNN (though he got bumped at the last minute by breaking news).
“This has been a whole hell of a lot of fun,” he said.
Ehlinger said the video cost about $5,000 to produce. He reiterated that there was no coordination or communication with the Huey campaign.
“She's barking up the wrong tree there,” he said.
UPDATE, Thursday 2 p.m.: The Hahn campaign has found what it calls the “smoking gun” linking Huey to the stripper video: a domain registration form that shows that Turn Right USA's website was registered by Campaign L.A., a vendor that produced yard signs for the Huey campaign.
Jimmy Camp, Huey's campaign manager, has described Campaign L.A. as a “rogue vendor” and repeated that the campaign had nothing to do with the video.
In a press release, Ehlinger said that he and G. Rick Marshall decided to make the video after growing frustrated with the Huey campaign's refusal to use the gang intervention issue against Hahn. The release states that Marshall contacted a vendor — presumably Campaign L.A. — for help in setting up the independent committee.
“At no time was there ever any collusion between TRUSA and the Huey campaign,” Ehlinger said.
Sick of this yet?
If you haven't seen the video, you cannot claim to have plumbed the depths of American politics. Here it is:
And here is a much tamer video released this week by the Huey campaign. It features kids and a lemonade stand and some tax collectors, and so far, it's gotten 150 views. (Note to self: nothing drives pageviews like strippers and racism.)
First posted at 4:41 p.m. Wednesday.