Remember the booty-shaking attack video on Janice Hahn? The one that was declared the most offensive campaign ad of all time?
Republicans immediately distanced themselves from it. But that doesn't meant they've given up on making an issue out of Hahn's support for gang-intervention programs. Quite the opposite, in fact.
Today, the National Republican Congressional Committee sent a text to voters in the 36th Congressional District alerting them that “Councilwoman Janice Hahn helped steer tax $ to violent, inner city gang members.” The text directed them to a new website, HahnGotMeOut.com for a “must see news report.”
The news report is Chris Blatchford's 2008 series for Fox 11 News, which accused Hahn of funneling money to active gang members under the auspices of the city's gang-intervention programs.
Blatchford is a veteran reporter with plenty of awards under his belt, but he botched this one. (I know because I re-interviewed his sources three years ago and debunked his story.) Among other problems, “P.J. Steve,” the gang member he leads with, was not a gang-intervention worker. Whoops. The others identified in the report didn't get taxpayer money. Whoops again.
On Monday, Politifact did its own fact-check of the infamous stipper ad, which was based on the Fox 11 report, and rated it “False.”
Setting the Fox report aside, there is a legitimate debate to be had about gang intervention. Hahn is a longtime supporter of such programs, and tried to get a $30 million tax measure approved to fund gang prevention and intervention.
Asked for a defense of gang intervention, the Hahn campaign referred comment to civil rights lawyer Connie Rice. Rice wrote a lengthy report for the city advocating a dramatic increase in funding for gang prevention and intervention programs. She noted those programs are supported not only by Hahn but also by the L.A. Police Department and the L.A. County Sheriff.
“This is just stupid,” Rice said. “Are we going to listen to our police leaders or are we going to listen to a bunch of people who have too much time on their hands thinking about stripper poles?… We've got real lives we've saved because Janice Hahn stepped up to the table. These clowns are trying to knock her down. They wouldn't have the guts to do what she did.”
Hahn is facing Republican Craig Huey in the July 12 runoff for the seat vacated by Jane Harman. She is favored to win, due to a strong Democratic registration advantage, though her campaign has been doing everything it can to stave off voter apathy and get Democrats to the polls.
Huey's campaign manager, Jimmy Camp, said he was unaware of the NRCC's attack on Hahn's gang intervention record. Asked if Huey planned to make it an issue as well, Camp said “I wouldn't rule it out.”