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Unfit for office

Pouring salt into the wounds of veterans

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The last month of the 2016 election year is fast nearing an end and none too soon. As usual, the political left agonizes over the presence of vast sums of money being spent on campaigns, especially that which originates via wealthy supporters of their political rivals. No such agonizing exists, however, over the vast sums of money received via the ideologically conforming billionaire class that routinely donates millions of dollars to left-leaning politicians, such as Tom Steyer. The former hedge-fund manager has given at least $31 million to Democrats or Democratic causes in 2016, more than twice the amount given by the largest contributor to conservative candidates or causes. This doesn’t include the millions in public employee union dues collected and directed toward Democratic candidates, a continuous money stream that gives Democrats an incredible financial advantage over Republicans in California politics.

Steyer is a true believer, using his wealth to push climate change rhetoric across the state and punishing any candidate that hasn’t drunk a fully-approved dose of catastrophic climate change Kool-Aid. It’s not a level political playing field and when coupled with Hollywood celebrities hosting $100,000-per-plate dinners for favored Democrats or causes, it gives the Democrats an enormous financial advantage over local Republican candidates.

An example is that hundreds of thousands of out-of-district dollars have poured into the 35th Assembly District race, where Republican candidate Jordan Cunningham is fighting Democrat Dawn Ortiz-Legg. 

The California Democratic Party is the recipient of millions of dollars of celebrity and Silicon Valley money that has been used to launch a particularly nasty and often deceitful disinformation campaign against Cunningham. The significance of this race is that Sacramento Democrats are within a few votes of obtaining a super-majority in the state Legislature, and the 35th Assembly District is key. Once obtained, a supermajority in the California legislature will be able to pass any tax, overwhelming Republican opposition, including the repeal of Proposition 13, which protects homeowners from being taxed out of their homes via massive increases in property taxes. Other issues at stake are the remaining tatters of Second Amendment protections that the Democrat-controlled legislature has rendered virtually meaningless in California via restrictions on lawful gun owners’ ability to own, possess, transport, or use legally owned firearms.

There are many liberal Democrats who are quite patriotic and proud of their country. There are others, however, who represent the darkest side of politics and whose past actions, you’d think, would disqualify them from public office. Cunningham’s opponent, Dawn Ortiz-Legg, falls into this category. 

Cunningham began his legal career as a Deputy District Attorney, putting away more than a few criminal predators. He eventually left public service and entered private practice, upholding the other end of his professions’ constitutional duty, defending the accused. Not every country allows an effective criminal defense and places the full burden upon the accused to prove their innocence. Our justice system ensures that cherished rights are protected against capricious prosecution, and Cunningham’s job was to provide an effective defense of those accused of crimes. His opponent, Ortiz-Legg, began her campaign for the state Assembly with an egregious misrepresentation of Cunningham, even creating false court documents to be used in negative political ads against Cunningham. This goes to the issue of character and the willingness to debase an opponent by any means necessary in order to win an election.

Ortiz-Legg’s supporters defended this practice, pointing to Cunningham’s airing of an ad decrying Ortiz-Legg’s association with the left-wing group, Code Pink, of which she was a regional co-founder during the Iraq War. The difference between the two is Cunningham was fulfilling a constitutional duty as a lawyer. By contrast, Ortiz-Legg used her time and efforts on behalf of an organization that made personal attacks against soldiers fighting to defend the very freedom she exploited for political purposes. Code Pink didn’t simply oppose the Iraq war; taking a page from the Vietnam era, they routinely accused American troops of war crimes, compared them to Nazis, and echoed the false propaganda of our enemies while harassing returning veterans and their families. Legitimate political protest is directed at policy-makers, not the soldiers who performed their duty under the Constitution and within the laws of war.

The damage such attacks have on returning veterans causes those most vulnerable, those with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), to further withdraw into themselves, isolating themselves from family and friends. Some commit suicide or compound their problems with substance abuse as a result of the rejection by society of the sacrifices they made on behalf of an ungrateful citizenry. Code Pink is unapologetic for their harassment of returning veterans and every vile slander they hurled at those in uniform. Neither has Ortiz-Legg renounced the tactics of Code Pink nor has she apologized to the veterans into whose psychological wounds she poured the salt of bitterness and rejection. For that reason alone, she is unfit for any public office.

Al Fonzi is the chairman of the Republican Party of SLO County. Send comments through the editor at clanham@newtimesslo.com. 

-- Al Fonzi - Atascadero

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