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Going overboard in the 3rd CD race

Marco Serna and his campaign have gone overboard.

Marco Serna

Serna recently provided a statement to the Journal stating, with no proof, that “a number” of donors to one of his congressional campaign opponents, Valerie Plame, are “anti-Semitists and individuals who are holocaust deniers.” The Serna camp also demanded that Plame “return white supremacist contributions.”

Serna’s people cite an article from a conservative publication, only the latest instance of Serna – a self-proclaimed “progressive prosecutor” – relying on conservative media for critical information on his fellow Democrat Plame.

The article by the Washington Free Beacon revives reports about one Plame donor. Former U.S. Rep. Paul “Pete” McCloskey, best known for running as a liberal Republican and anti-war candidate against Richard Nixon in 1972, was said to have lent support to a Holocaust denier group when speaking to the group in 2000. McCloskey denies making the comments. There also has been criticism that McCloskey should never have addressed the Holocaust deniers.

The same Beacon article lists some other famous people who also have contributed to Plame’s campaign. Serna’s team seems to be taking this to mean that this “number” of others – including actors John Goodman, Bryan Cranston and Michael Douglas – are white supremacists or Holocaust deniers merely because they donated to Plame’s campaign.

Valerie Plame

Also mentioned is Morris Dees, another Plame donor, who is cofounder and former chief trial lawyer for the Southern Poverty Law Center anti-discrimination organization. The SPLC has faced criticism, particularly, but not always, from conservatives, that it has gone too far in labeling some organizations as hate groups, and makes these assertions as a promotional and fundraising tool.

Dees, who won a $7 million verdict against the Ku Klux Klan on behalf of the family of a black lynching victim and was active in several Democratic presidential campaigns, was fired from the SPLC earlier this year amid allegations of racial and gender discrimination, and sexual harassment in the workplace. Dees denies the accusations.

Serna is upset that Plame is raising tons of campaign money – about $400,000 – from contributors who gave less than $200, apparently with a vigorous national online fundraising effort that is boosted by her fame. She became a national figure, and the subject of a Hollywood movie, after she was outed as a CIA operative after her then-husband’s challenge to the George W. Bush administration’s narrative about nuclear weapons threats from Iraq before the U.S. invasion.

The givers of small donations like those boosting Plame’s 3rd Congressional District candidacy now are not “itemized” under Federal Election Commission rules, which means candidate reports to the FEC don’t provide names, addresses or professions for the small donors. Serna is suggesting that Plame’s less-than-$200 donors must be rife with hate-mongers and she should identify them.

Serna should shut up about hidden Holocaust deniers and anti-Semites without further proof.

Dees and McCloskey, whatever their sins, do not appear from their personal histories to be the spear tip for a vast Aryan Nation horde that’s massing behind a liberal Democrat like Plame.

Candidates can release the names and professions of their small donors if they so choose. So far, no one in the 3rd CD race – including Serna, who has received less than 5% of his own campaign money from people giving $200 or less – has done so.

Serna is on firmer ground as he continues to attack Plame’s infamous tweet from 2017 of an article entitled “America’s Jews are Driving America’s Wars” from a controversial website.

Plame has apologized, saying she had merely skimmed the article, which said Jews should be labeled as such when commenting on television. She told Twitter followers, “I’m not perfect and make mistakes. This was a doozy. All I can do is admit them, try to be better, and read more thoroughly next time. Ugh.”

Plame had previously tweeted out articles from the same Unz Reader website and the same author before the one that got her into trouble. Even The American Conservative cut ties with the author of the piece tweeted by Plame after the controversy.

Plame has since emphasized that she has Jewish roots, saying in her popular James Bond-like campaign ad that she comes from Ukrainian Jewish immigrants. Still, use of her tweet of an article headlined “America’s Jews are Driving America’s Wars” as attack ad fodder is certainly within the acceptable bounds of political war.

Serna seems fixated on Plame, despite the fact that another 3rd CD candidate, Teresa Leger Fernandez, appears to be picking up steam in the form of fundraising and important endorsements, like one from EMILY’s List, the national group that supports progressive women candidates.

But if being the anti-Plame continues to be Serna’s preferred play going forward, he should lay off the unsupported claims about her supporters.