California Dem PAC hits Rohrabacher with Russia parody ads

Greg Nash

A Democratic political action committee in California is blasting Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) over his ties to Russia with new parody ads and mailers.

Red to Blue California will run new digital ads starting Tuesday that announce a mock endorsement of Rohrabacher, a 30-year incumbent facing a tough reelection race, from Moscow.

The ads, which will run in both English and Russian, feature a picture of Russian President Vladimir Putin, with a speech bubble that says “you’re a true Russian hero” to Rohrabacher.

{mosads}The six-figure campaign includes two digital ads that target swing voters in California’s 48th District. The buy also includes two mailers: one with photoshopped pictures of Putin and Rohrabacher standing side-by-side and another with a parody letter from Putin “enthusiastically endorsing” the congressman.

“While Congressman Rohrabacher has got away with his allegiances to Russia for decades, the stakes are much higher now,” said Andrew Feldman, Red to Blue California spokesman. “Ties to Russia matter when Russia tries to influence our elections. Our Democracy is at risk.”

Rohrabacher, one of the most pro-Russia members of Congress, has drawn criticism for those ties from Democrats and Republicans alike.

According to a New York Times report from last May, the FBI warned Rohrabacher in 2012 that Kremlin spies were trying to recruit him as an “agent of influence.”

And in special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Moscow’s election interference, Richard Gates, a former campaign aide to President Trump, pleaded guilty in February to lying about a 2013 meeting between Rohrabacher, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and a lobbyist on Ukraine. A Rohrabacher spokesman confirmed in February that the meeting took place, saying it was a dinner between “two longtime acquaintances.”

In late August, Manafort was found guilty on eight felony charges involving bank loan fraud and tax evasion. Rohrabacher’s campaign said he will donate to charity $1,000 given to his campaign by Manafort during the 2014 cycle.

Rohrabacher’s campaign called the ad a “complete miss,” arguing that voters are more concerned about local issues.

“Sometimes partisans can’t see beyond their own obsessions. I’m sure this idea made the ad makers chuckle, but voters in the 48th district are more concerned about Harley Rouda’s extreme plan to pay Medicare benefits to illegal aliens at their expense,” said Rohrabacher campaign spokesman Dale Neugebauer.

“In our district, people worry about the impact of Sober Living Homes on their neighborhoods, the storage of spent fuel at the closed San Onofre nuclear power plant, and finding a healthcare solution that works for Americans with pre-existing conditions.”

The longtime incumbent faces Democratic businessman Harley Rouda in one of the most competitive California races of the cycle. Rohrabacher’s district is one of seven held by the GOP in the Golden State where Hillary Clinton won in 2016.

Polls show a tight race between Rohrabacher and Rouda in an Orange County seat where there’s been a big demographic shift since the Republican first took office in 1989. The latest poll from The New York Times Upshot and Siena College on Monday found the two candidates tied at 45 percent.

Rohrabacher, the chairman for the House Foreign Affairs Committee subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia and Emerging Threats, has rebuffed criticism over Russia, telling CNN in a June interview that he doesn’t believe it’ll impact his race.

“The Democrats are learning now there’s a big blowback to insulting the intelligence of the American people with this phony PR campaign that’s aimed at trying to prevent President Trump from assuming the rightful authority that was given to him by the voters,” Rohrabacher told CNN.

“And my people are patriotic, and they see this as an act that is undermining the very democratic institutions that have always given America the edge. When you lose an election, you lose the election. You let the other guy govern.”

–Updated at 11:13 a.m.

Tags 2022 midterm elections California Dana Rohrabacher Donald Trump Hillary Clinton Paul Manafort Robert Mueller Russia

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