Mystery House Candidate Claiming To Be a Democrat Has Ties To Trump And Is Being Managed By Republicans
A mystery House candidate who dropped $1 million of “his own money” into California’s 39th Congressional District race in the last two months has come under scrutiny after it was revealed that he has close ties to Donald Trump and his campaign is being run by a Republican consultant who previously worked for the president.
It’s a disturbing revelation in light of the fact that his candidacy threatened to lock Democrats out of the general election and a final wild twist in a House election called “the weirdest race in the country” by Politico.
“Dr. Herbert Lee, a gastroenterologist with practices in Irvine and Rowland Heights, California, was a political unknown with an off-the-shelf campaign website and P.O. box for a campaign headquarters, until Federal Election Commission disclosures in the final reporting period showed he loaned himself $800,000 for the effort. He added another $200,000 on May 29, making it a cool million. He suddenly started showing up at events and in the field.
According to The Intercept, his last-minute expenditures appear to target ethnic voters, with Spanish- and Chinese-language advertising buys in print, TV, radio, and digital, along with a flurry of mailers and a texting and in-person canvass. He ended up pulling 4.1 percent of the vote, which could have been enough to influence the race, but Democratic voters ultimately consolidated around Gil Cisneros, pushing him into second place and assuring him a place in the general election.”
California has an unusual primary structure, where all candidates from all parties appear on the same ballot and the top two vote-getters advance regardless of party. The 39th, a key district in the Democrats’ plan to take over Congress, would be prime territory for a sock-puppet campaign.
It is possible that Lee is running a genuine, quixotic campaign with obscure purposes that only coincidentally damages Democratic chances of making it through the top-two primary — anything is possible in this race — but the mere possibility that he is in the race to game the outcome suggests a more nefarious motive.
From The Intercept:
A woman named Yuyan Vernon from Elkhorn, Nebraska, takes credit as the “manager” of Lee’s campaign. In an interview with The Intercept, Vernon said she runs social media for the candidate.
Vernon’s Facebook feed is filled with anti-Hillary Clinton memes, pro-Trump posts, and pictures of her at the 2016 Republican National Convention with a white “Chinese Americans Love Trump” shirt.
Vernon is also a Republican donor who gave tens of thousands to the California Republican Party. There’s a picture of her from June 2016 with Trump. Her most recent Facebook post encourages votes for Lee, as well as Trump-supported Republican John Cox for California governor.
And —get this— Lee and his supporters have attacked virtually all the Democrats in the race. There are, however, two candidates Lee has largely declined to attack with his last-minute blast of spending: Bob Huff and Shawn Nelson, the two Republicans vying for top two along with Young Kim, according to the report