Politics can be tough and it's not uncommon (to say the least) for politicians to bend the truth.
But a recent mailer sent by the Pete Stark campaign takes it to an extreme, as first reported by the Bay Area News Group.
The mailer (shown above) implies that Stark's opponent, Eric Swalwell, is a closeted Tea Partier whose campaign is being funded by Republicans.
Swalwell hasn't given any indication that he agrees with the Tea Party in any significant way. In a live chat with Patch in May, Swalwell was asked who he would model himself after politically. He listed three Democrats — Rep. Ellen Tauscher, State Superintendent Tom Torlakson and Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley.
The mailer contains a photo of Swalwell holding an Etch-A-Sketch of a GOP elephant.
But the Swalwell campaign says the photo is doctored and gave BANG the original photo, where Swalwell is holding an Etch-A-Sketch of a man that looks like himself (you can see the original attached to this article).
"It just misrepresents, it implies Eric drew that elephant on the Etch-a-Sketch and he did not," she said. "There was no reason to take a personal photo of Eric and doctor it like that."
The mailer also says, "Campaign finance reports show that over $86,000 of Eric Swalwell's contributions come from Republicans. Swalwell claims he's no conservative, but the evidence speaks for itself. Republicans and their corporate allies in the pharmaceutical world like Amgen and Pfizer are excited about young Swalwell because they think he's their cup of tea."
Though it's likely Swalwell has received money from conservatives, a large majority of the money he has received has come from fellow Democrats. (Read our recent story on the finances of the campaign.)
BANG explains why a Republican would give money to the Swalwell campaign:
Put yourself in the shoes of any Republican - tea party-sympathetic or otherwise - living in this district: Who would you vote for, with only these two candidates on the ballot? Stark and his supporters are proud that he's one of the most doggedly liberal members of Congress, and it's safe to assume anyone with even a streak of conservatism would vote against him. That's been part of Swalwell's campaign strategy from the get-go - appealing to a broader spectrum of voters than Stark can. If anyone to the right of Pete Stark is deemed a tea partier, there are a whooooooole lot of Democrats and independents out there who'll cry foul.
The mailer also raises the question that Swalwell was involved in a pay-to-play scheme and awarded a no-bid contract to people who donated to his campaign. (Patch linked out to a Huffington Post story on this accusation last month.)
On that accusation, Swalwell spokeswoman Lisa Tucker said, "there's no significance there. This was an agenda item pushed forth by the city staff. It was a 4-to-1 vote. There's no there there."