Indicted Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) is reportedly mailing letters filled with Islamophobic rhetoric about his Democratic opponent, Ammar Campa-Najjar, and two Muslim congresswomen to voters in his Southern California district.
The mailers, first reported by Politico, feature photos of Campa-Najjar, a Protestant, and Democratic Reps. Ilhan Omar (Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (Mich.) alongside an image of one of the terrorists involved in a 1972 attack on Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics. They also solicit contributions from recipients.
“Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and Ammar Campa-Najjar ... these three radical Democrats want you to forget their anti-semitism or family-terrorist ties!” reads a message on the back of the letters. “But as a Marine I’ll never forget the 1983 Beirut bombings and the 1972 Olympic murders!”
The letters reference allegations that Campa-Najjar’s grandfather, whom he never knew, was a Palestinian terrorist involved in the planning of the Munich attack. (Campa-Najjar has condemned both the attack and his grandfather’s alleged role in it, which has been recently called into question.)
Hunter’s office did not immediately respond to a request for his comment. But his spokesman, Michael Harrison, confirmed to Politico that Hunter’s 2020 reelection campaign sent the mailers.
“It is a piece put out by Congressman Hunter’s campaign,” Harrison said. “It’s a hard-hitting piece because these are significant issues that our opponent refuses to acknowledge.”
Asked to comment on the mailers, Campa-Najjar simply noted to HuffPost that the letters contain a spelling error where they claim Tlaib is “anti-Isreal.”
“His spell-checkers are as bad as his fact-checkers,” said Campa-Najjar, a 29-year-old fellow at the U.S. Immigration Policy Center at the University of California, San Diego.
The candidate also commented in a release: “The closer Duncan Hunter gets to his criminal trial, the more absurd his lies and racist attacks become. At this point, it’s pretty clear that Congressman Hunter has lost all ability to tell the difference between right and wrong, fact and fiction.”
Campa-Najjar’s campaign also called on Hunter to apologize for posting to social media a since-deleted photo of himself at a Fourth of July parade standing next to a man making a gesture known as a white supremacist symbol.
“It’s one scandal after another, one embarrassing news story after another, one potential crime after another, one courtroom appearance after another, and one lie after another,” Campa-Najjar said.
Hunter is facing a Sept. 10 trial stemming from his indictment last year for allegedly misusing $250,000 in campaign funds. The congressman and his wife, Margaret Hunter, have been accused of using campaign funds on personal expenses, including luxury vacations, dental work, theater tickets and private school tuition for their children.
“He’s paying his legal fees,” Campa-Najjar told Politico on Friday.
Campa-Najjar is running against Hunter for the second time in 2020, and it’s not the first time he’s faced racist attacks from the congressman.
Ahead of the November midterm elections last year, Hunter’s campaign released an attack ad calling rival Campa-Najjar a “security risk” with connections to Islamic terrorism. The ad falsely accused the candidate of attempting to “infiltrate” Congress and changing his name “so he sounds Hispanic” and to erase his family’s ties to terrorism.
Hunter later doubled down on his attack, claiming Campa-Najjar would leak classified information on U.S. military operations if he were elected. “Would he compromise U.S. operations to protect his relatives, the Najjars?” asks a letter paid for by Hunter’s campaign and signed by three retired Marines.
Campa-Najjar is Palestinian-Mexican-American and worked at the White House under President Barack Obama and at the Labor Department ― both of which required him to have security clearance.
As The Washington Post pointed out, Hunter would not be able to obtain clearance due to his indictment.