By Miriam Raftery
October 18, 2018 (San Diego) – Over $1.4 million in donations have poured into the campaign coffers of Ammar Campa-Najjar from June 30th to September 30th, over five times more than his opponent, Congressman Duncan D. Hunter.
Facing federal felony charges of embezzling a quarter of a million dollars from his campaign for lavish personal expenses including European vacations, overnight stays with mistresses, jewelry, and oral surgery bills. Hunter has tried to blame his wife, blasting his opponent with a racially-based smear campaign touting claims found false by national media fact checkers.
But the tactic appears to have backfired, boosting donations and poll numbers for Campa-Najjar. A September16th-23rd poll of likely voters in the district conducted by the Institute of Governmental Studies at U.C. Berkeley found Campa-Najjar, a Democrat, just two points behind Hunter, a Republican, in a district with overwhelming Republican registration.
In a letter to voters headed “Security Alert” in red letters, Hunter’s campaign falsely claims Campa-Najjar is a “national security risk”, but Campa-Najjar had a security clearance to work at the White House. The hit piece also falsely claims Campa-Najjar’s father was a “senior leader of Yasser Arafat’s PLO,” which is also false. It also references Campa-Najjar’s grandfather, who was tied to terrorist at the Munch Olympics, but died before Campa-Najjar was born. A Christian, Campa-Najjar has denounced the grandfather he never met.
The letter is signed by three retired military officers, but fails to mention that one is a friend of the Hunter family who has lobbied for defense contracts, another owns a lobbying firm in Washington D.C. and the third is a consultant for a government relations firm, Mother Jones reports.
Seventy national security experts and counter terrorism experts have denounced Hunter's attacks ads as racist, bigoted and untrue. The Washington Post Fact Checker gave Hunter's ad Four Pinocchios out of Four for it falsehoods.
Campa-Najjar issued a statement which reads in part, “The FBI thoroughly vetted me, my family history and connections. After doing so, they determined my allegiances to the United States were unquestionable and I was given security clearance to serve in the federal government as recent as 2016.”
He adds, “I am not a security threat, Duncan Hunter is however. Due to his criminal indictment, excessive drinking, infidelity and financial instability, Duncan Hunter would not be eligible for a security clearance. That is why Republican speaker of the House Paul Ryan called on Hunter’s removal from the Armed Services Committee; he is compromised and no longer fit to access classified materials.”
Campa-Najjar’s pastor, Mike Meeks Pastor Emeritus of EastLake Church, says, “I have known Ammar since he was sixteen when he became part of our youth ministry. Before he left for college he grew up serving our janitorial staff, worship team, and youth ministry where he even gave Sunday Youth group sermons. When he served in federal government, we talked regularly about life and the faith challenges of following Jesus in today’s world. Through it all, Ammar remains committed to growing in his faith, following Jesus and serving his community.”