Saturday, October 11, 2008

Offensive Ad in 28th House District

This week, a group called the "Republican State Leadership Committee" sent a direct mail advertisement to certain voters in the Ohio 28th House District. This is the race where Virgil Lovitt is the Republican candidate. The political advertisement depicts a chihuahua dressed in Mexican garb in front of a Mexican flag and attacks Virgil Lovitt's opponent for her position on "English language" legislation currently being proposed in the state legislature.

On Wednesday of this week, I received a rather scathing letter from the Cincinnati Hispanic Chamber of Commerce demanding an apology and criticizing the Hamilton County Republican Party for this advertisement. Until receiving that letter, I knew nothing about this controversy and knew nothing about this political mail piece. Upon receiving the letter, I immediately met with Mr. Cornejo of the Hispanic Chamber. I told Mr. Cornejo that the Hamilton County Republican Party had nothing to do with this mailer and we knew nothing about the "Republican State Leadership Committee." That is the truth.

The "Republican State Leadership Committee" is an outside group from Virginia that has no connection whatsoever with the Hamilton County Republican Party. By all accounts, they are an outside 3rd party not affiliated with our Party. I have no way of ascertaining what association they have with other official Republican organizations, but I am certain they have no affiliation with the Hamilton County Republican Party.

The advertisement at issue is highly offensive, repugnant, and disgusting. The use of a dog to represent Mexicans is crude and completely beyond the pale. The desecration of the Mexican flag should offend everyone. As a Greek-American myself, I can't imagine the horror the Greek community would feel if our national symbol was reduced to a dog and our flag was used in this fashion. The advertisement done by the Republican State Leadership Committee is repugnant and I denounce it completely. I am embarrassed that it is associated with Republicans in any way.

The next question becomes one of semantics and becomes more political. I regret that to be the case. An apology was demanded of me and the Hamilton County Republican Party. We had nothing to do with this advertisement. For me to apologize would send the message that we somehow take responsibility for something we had nothing to do with. Because this group uses the word "Republican" in their title does not mean that I must apologize for their transgressions. I join the Hispanic chamber in their call for an apology from the group that wronged the Hispanic community.

In response to this situation, I sent an e-mail and a letter to Mr. Cornejo and to the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce denouncing the ad and joining their call for an apology. I spoke with Mayor Lovitt who agreed that the ad was highly improper and he denounced the ad as well. I spoke with several leaders in Columbus who might know of the advertisement and they all agreed that the ad was improper.

This whole episode is unfortunate. At a time where the Republican Party ought to be reaching into the minority community, one group using our name has done damage to our cause. As Republicans, we should never tolerate this kind of crude and divisive political dialogue. It is not helpful to our cause.