Thursday, October 19, 2006

Lower and Lower

Someone's trying to intimidate legal immigrants from voting-- at least if they're registered Democrats: A Republican congressional candidate said Thursday that he was not personally involved in sending a letter warning Hispanic immigrants they could go to jail or be deported if they vote next month, a mailing that prompted a state investigation.

'I did not do this. I did not approve of any letter,' Tan D. Nguyen, the GOP challenger to Democratic U.S. Rep. Loretta Sanchez told The Associated Press.

The investigation is focused on Nguyen's campaign, according to a law enforcement official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to publicly discuss it. The Los Angeles Times and The Orange County Register also indicated the Nguyen's campaign was the target.

Nguyen said he believed an employee in his office might have used his voter data base to send out the letter without his knowledge.

Darn those overzealous employees!

He said that employee has been 'discharged.'

[Translation: Some good soldier fell on his sword.]

The letter, written in Spanish and mailed last week to an estimated 14,000 Democratic voters in central Orange County, tells recipients: 'You are advised that if your residence in this country is illegal or you are an immigrant, voting in a federal election is a crime that could result in jail time.'

In fact, immigrants who are naturalized U.S. citizens can legally vote.

It is illegal to threaten or intimidate voters, though, and the complaints about the letters that began surfacing this week prompted state and federal investigations.

Thanks to alert reader Brett Battles who sent this one in.

UPDATE: it seems that the earlier denial of any knowledge from Mr. Nuguyen is, er... inoperative:

GARDEN GROVE, California Orange County Republican leaders on Thursday called for the withdrawal of a Republican congressional candidate they believe sent a letter threatening Hispanic immigrant voters with arrest.

Tan D. Nguyen denied knowing anything about the letter in an interview Thursday with The Associated Press but said he fired a campaign staffer who may have been responsible for it.

County Republican Chairman Scott Baugh, however, said that after speaking with state investigators and the company that distributed the mailer, he believes Nguyen had direct knowledge of an "obnoxious and reprehensible" letter. He told the AP that the party's executive committee voted unanimously to urge Nguyen to drop out of the race against Democratic Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez.

"I learned information that allows me to draw the conclusion that not only was Mr. Nguyen's campaign involved in this, but that Mr. Nguyen was personally involved in expediting the mailer," Baugh said in a telephone interview.

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