KERN COUNTY - Candidate for State Senate Leticia Perez is calling on her opponent Andy Vidak to denounce what she calls an outrageous political ad. The ad was paid for by an outside group, but Perez says Vidak shouldn't tolerate a "smear campaign."
After repeated calls, Vidak's campaign refused to comment over the phone saying "circumstances wouldn't allow it." Instead it released a statement saying Perez should focus on the issues.
"This is a despicable smear campaign," said Perez.
Perez is talking about a pamphlet that was sent to voters in Fresno about a case Perez tried as a Kern County public defender. It claims that "as a criminal defense attorney she defended a man who tortured a dog."
"This is a case that I was assigned to by the courts," said Perez. "These are outrageous lies meant to slander me and ruin my reputation."
The ad is also running as a commercial in Spanish. It's funded by the California Association of Realtors, not Andy Vidak's campaign. However the Association, according to the California Fair Political Practices Commission, is a major donor to Vidak's campaign, which is why Perez is asking Vidak to denounce the ad.
"Mr. Vidak should call on these groups to stop this million dollar campaign," she said.
Perez has attacked Vidak before in ads, but she said this ad crosses the line.
"We should highlight each other's policy differences where we differentiate, where we disagree on policy matters. That's fair, but when we make personal attacks in hopes to smear the other person's reputation and associate me with criminals is outrageous," said Perez.
In a statement, Vidak asked Perez "to stop the nonsense of the personal attacks and talk about the issues that concern the daily lives of the voters we are running to represent."
The California Association of Realtors could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
Perez is also asking Vidak to denounce posts on his Facebook campaign page.
The posts are from last month. Perez said the posts attack her and her husband. Although some of the posts have been taken down, Perez said Vidak should have removed them sooner, which is why Perez is running an ad.
"Andy Vidak supporters are putting hateful things on his campaign Facebook that I should take my campaign back to Mexico and that my husband is a Muslim who hates white people," says Perez in the ad.
Screen shots from the Perez campaign show posts from various people. One post asks Perez to "run her racially charged, racist campaign in Mexico."
Another post says "So Perez's husband hates whites, was an Atheist and is now a Muslim...wow."
Another calls her a "crazy Mexican lady." The Vidak campaign says these posts were taken down quickly.
But, the screen shots show posts from May 18th and May 22th were still up June 16th. So, Perez holds Vidak responsible.
"This is his campaign," said Perez. "It is what is published on his name and on his behalf, and it is out there, it's associated with him. He should pull it down. He should denounce it. He should apologize for it and say we're not going to tolerate this."
After repeated calls, Vidak's camp said it would not speak to 17 News on the phone saying "circumstances wouldn't allow it."
However, Vidak released a statement saying "I don't condone that kind of talk. People who know me, know that isn't me. I don't control what people will say about other people and to blame me for what they say or post is ridiculous."