An anonymous direct mail hit piece has been flooding my district. On one side, it says I accepted money and paid trips from "insurance companies" and voted to cut $716 billion from Medicare -- the same nonsense Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are throwing at President Obama. The other side is an endorsement for my primary opponent, Amanda Aguirre. All it says is "Paid for by the Opportunity for All Committee." This came out just last week, and our primary is on Tuesday.
I decided to investigate, and we found the Opportunity for All Committee is headquartered in a dirt lot in El Paso, Texas. Then, because my attitude is to confront this stuff instead of ignore it, I held a press conference.
There are a few dots to connect. Carlos Sierra, the man who leads the “Opportunity for All Committee,” is a former John McCain staffer. Amanda Aguirre’s online media is being handled by DeeDee Garcia Blase, the founder of the Hispanic Republican group Somos Republicans. Although Sierra has denied knowing Aguirre or any of her staff, two photos — freely available at the Somos Republicans Web site — show Sierra and Blase working together, in one case at a McCain office. (In this group photo, Sierra is third from left and Blase is fourth.) Another photo shows Aguirre and Blase together at a Latina Trailblazers event in March of this year. A fourth shows Blase at an event with paid Aguirre consultant Luis Gonzalez.
The headquarters address Sierra filed with the Federal Election Commission is an empty dirt lot in El Paso, Texas. When asked directly by KVOA, the NBC affiliate in Tucson, where the money came from for the attack mailer, he refused to answer. You can watch the KVOA segment here and the KGUN (ABC affiliate) story here. A video of my Aug. 25 press conference is viewable here, complete with lots of nice visuals.
Aguirre hasn’t denounced the attack piece. In fact, she told KVOA that Sierra is “welcome to support me because I need all the help I can get.” Her press release responding to questions about the mailer -- which I won't link to -- called my press conference “a direct example of underhanded bullying tactics.” Make up your own mind about that one.
Her campaign consultant, George Braun, is a member of the Republican National Lawyers Association. Carlos Sierra and DeeDee Blase are Republicans. She's running against me in a Democratic Party primary. This mailer was supposedly organized in an empty horse paddock in El Paso with cash that fell out of the sky.
This is a case study in dark money. I'm not the only one who has to deal with this stuff. I don't know how it's playing elsewhere, but I'm not taking it lying down. If anyone else tries this in the general election, they can look forward to the same response.