Tuesday Sep 30 2008
4th District foes target long-standing issues
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
Congressional candidates Brown, McClintock zero in on per diem funds, anti-war protest
It’s deja vu time with a twist of the political knife in the race to succeed John Doolittle as congressman. Fourth District congressional candidates Charlie Brown and Tom McClintock are hammering away at each other on issues that have been tested in previous campaigns by other candidates with mixed results. In Brown’s case, McClintock is zeroing a flurry of TV and print ads in on the Democratic Party candidate’s appearance at an anti-war demonstration in Sacramento where a U.S. soldier was hanged in effigy. McClintock, meanwhile, is finding himself again answering accusations that he has unethically received $306,000 in per-diem benefits for legislators who live away from the Capitol in Sacramento. The question of Brown’s anti-war demonstration appearance was first used by U.S. Rep. John Doolittle, R-Roseville, during the waning days of a campaign two years ago that saw his opponent came from nowhere to lose by just three percentage points. Meanwhile, McClintock’s per diem payments were used by former congressman Doug Ose as a major plank in a losing primary campaign four months ago. Ose contended that because McClintock’s residence was in Elk Grove and he used a home owned by a family trust in Thousand Oaks as an address to establish residency in the district, he shouldn’t accept the $170 tax-free per diem offered out-of-town legislators. The issue failed to resonate with Republican voters, and McClintock won handily against Ose. Why bother with old issues that could appear a little shopworn with voters? Both candidates say there are good reasons to bring them up. The McClintock campaign is zeroing in on a new video showing Brown wearing what it says Brown an Air Force jacket and hat. The Brown camp points out he’s wearing blue jeans and a red shirt under the jacket. McClintock said the campaign came across the video and it showed to them that he was in uniform at the demonstration – something he had denied in the past. “It calls into question his credibility and judgment in attending a left-wing, radical rally at the same time American soldiers are in harm’s way in Iraq and Afghanistan,” McClintock said. Brown said the McClintock is attacking him with the video because it’s a way to hit at one of his major strengths – his connection to military and veterans issues as a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel during a time of war. “He’s using Karl Rove talking points – to attack someone on their strong point and your weak point,” Brown said. “That’s what a trained career politician is going to do. They want to get their smears out there.” On the per diem allegations, Brown’s campaign is contending McClintock has “used a loophole” meant for legislators who live far away from the Capitol while he lives 14 miles away. “Times are tough – people are hurting – and Tom McClintock is reaching into our pocket and taking taxpayer money to which he is not entitled,” Brown said. “There is a word for that – it’s called stealing.” McClintock said he can’t read the Brown campaign’s mind on why they’re bring up the per diem issue. “Probably because they’ve got nothing else to talk about,” he said. “I think he’s wrong on every major issue and he knows it.” McClintock said the Brown camp has checked into the per diem issue and received an answer from the Joint Rules Committee of the Assembly and Senate stating his residency is within current rules. Auburn’s Paul McDaniel, who had two tours of duty in Vietnam, said the McClintock attack on Brown was a cheap shot. “Tom McClintock never served or did anything to advance or support veterans issues and is only a lifetime professional politician who is willing to play the cheap shot as he sees himself losing,” McDaniel said. John Huey, a McClintock supporter, looked over the latest release from the Brown camp on the per diem issue and shrugged it off as an attempt by a candidate with little, if any, political ammunition to fire at the GOP flag-bearer. “They don’t have anything else to go on,” Huey said. The Journal’s Gus Thomson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.