Dirty politics prompt investigation in San Jose

May 17, 2010 10:13:17 PM PDT
Election year politics is getting nasty in San Jose. A campaign mailer sent to voters is now the focus of an explosive investigation in a city council race.

A symbol of communism in the Vietnamese community is being used in a mailer currently circulating in San Jose. It is either being used as a copycat of a disturbing tactic used in the past or the same people resurrecting an ugly trick.

City council candidate Magdalena Carrasco is outraged over a fraudulent mailer that claims to come from her campaign. It uses a picture of Carrasco, taken from her website and placed next to a Vietnamese communist flag, a symbol despised by Vietnamese American voters.

"I think that the message was clear. They wanted to make there was an emotional reaction, that there was an association of my candidacy to this hurtful symbol," Carrasco said Monday.

Richard Hobbs says this was not the first time this dirty campaign tactic has been used. He says he was the victim of a similar mailer when he ran for Santa Clara County supervisor in 2008. Hobbs lost that race by a narrow margin to George Shirakawa.

In both cases, the mailers have a questionable format and style.

"They used first class postage in order to avoid being identified as being part of any bulk mailing," Hobbs explained.

In this election, four people are running for the District Five city council seat held by Nora Campos. They include her brother Xavier Campos, Magdalena Carrasco, J. Manuel Herrera and Aaron Resendez.

Campos says he was a campaign volunteer for Shirakawa in the supervisor's race but has no knowledge of the mailers then or now.

"I don't have anything to do with either of those attacks," he told ABC7.

The other two candidates have spoken to Carrasco and denounce the mailer as a hit piece.

"To me this is not only illegal, but corrupt," Resendez said.

"I'd like to see any of this type of activity exposed and traced back to its source," Herrera said.

San Jose's Mayor Chuck Reed has called for a full investigation into the mailer and Carrasco says she wants the person responsible to be held accountable.

"There was clearly state and city laws that were violated, and we expect that whoever is guilty, be found and be prosecuted to the full extent of the law," she said.

City Clerk Lee Price said Monday that she will ask the district attorney to investigate and she will file a formal complaint with the Fair Political Practices Commission. Between the two mailers, they hope there are enough clues to resolve the case.


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