3 Dems vie for District 4 congressional nomination

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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A retired Air Force colonel from Roseville, a corporate whistleblower from El Dorado Hills and the president of a reform organization who hails from Lincoln are running for the District 4 Democratic party congressional nomination. Charles Brown is the retired Air Force colonel. Simply put, the 56-year-old Air Force Academy graduate said he should get the nomination because he's the one who can beat long-time District 4 Congressman John Doolittle, R-Roseville. Doolittle is being challenged for the Republican nomination by Auburn Mayor Mike Holmes, but all three Democrats are anticipating the incumbent will survive the primary and move through to the November election showdown. "I'm the only one out there actively campaigning," Brown said, citing numerous house parties, club events and money-raising activities that has included support from unions. He's won the support of the AFL-CIO, U.S. Rep. Jackie Spear, and the California Democrat Party. He recently welcomed former U.S. Sen. Max Cleland, D-Ga., to the area to campaign for him on veterans issues. Brown said major issues include the Constitution. "The Congress passes laws and the president enforces them," Brown said. "The president shouldn't be signing statements to bypass Congress." An Iowa native, Brown is married and has two adult children. He retired as a lieutenant colonel after 26 years in the Air Force. He's been a registered Democrat for 1½ years but said he'd been voting as a Democrat for a decade. He'd been a registered Republican before making the switch. Candidate Michael Hamersley, 42, has probably the highest national profile of the three District 4 Democrat candidates because of his role as corporate whistleblower in the KPMG tax shelter fraud of 2003. A Georgetown University Law Center graduate, Hamersley also has a masters of business administration degree. His testimony before the U.S. Senate Finance Committee helped lead to the indictment of 19 KPMG executives on criminal conspiracy and tax evasion charges. KPMG was ordered to pay $456 million in restitution and fines. Hamersley has since been featured on several newsmagazine shows including a 2004 PBS "Frontline" documentary "Tax Me If You Can" Currently working as a member of the Abusive Tax Shelter Task Force in the legal department of California's Franchise Tax Board, he also lectures on tax and professional ethics. He's married with one child. Hamersley is taking a different route than the other candidates for financing. He'll spend up to $20,000 of his own money but take no donations in the primary. He's also not taking endorsements. Instead, he's distancing himself from the other two candidates who he says represent a business-as-usual mind-set with Democrat power brokers. A former Republican who has been a Democrat for four years, Hamersley said he'll be out there running on his own merits. "I really feel I'm the candidate who will be the most successful against Doolittle," Hamersley said. "He's named Charlie Brown as part of the Liberal conspiracy but none of that is going to stick with me." Like the others, Hamersley is spoiling for a campaign against Doolittle. The congressman easily defeated Democrat challenger David Winters in the 2004 election, winning by a 2-1 margin. Hamersley said Doolittle's vulnerable because of fund-raising activities his wife is earning the family commission from and the congressman's connections to the principals involved in recent Washington, D.C. scandals, including disgraced congressman Duke Cunningham and lobbyist Jack Abramoff. "We must hold our public officials to a higher standard than just merely complying with the literal letter of the law while knowingly violating the intent and spirit of the law," Hamersley said. Lisa Rea, 48, said one of things she'll be counting on Democrats to consider when they troop to the polls June 6 is that she's the lone District 4 candidate who's been a Democrat from the start of her voting life. "I call myself a Jimmy Carter Democrat," Rea said, noting the work he has done since he left office on peace and human rights issues. "If Bill Clinton was still in office we wouldn't be in the middle of a war," she added. Rea is a former legislative aide who serves as president of the Justice & Reconciliation Project reform organization. She's spent a quarter of a century working in and around the state Legislature and cites her experience writing legislation and building cross-party coalitions as important political attributes. Rea said the election against the Republican candidate - she too believes it will be Doolittle - is about ethics and staying true to principles a person believes in. She said Doolittle's benefiting from his wife's 15 per cent cut in funds his campaign and political action committee takes in exemplifies a political system that can be taken of to put individual interests above the interests of the nation. Rea, a native of Illinois, grew up in Reno. Nev. and earned a bachelor's degree in history from the University of California, Santa Barbara. She is married and lives in Lincoln. Rea has won the endorsement of the National Women's Political Caucus and by 15 current and former state legislators. Familiar names in her support list includes former state legislator and current El Dorado County resident Byron Sher, and former El Dorado County Supervisor Bill Center. The Journal's Gus Thomson can be reached at