Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa) is facing a tough re-election race this year, and a Democratic political action committee is reminding constituents about his ties to Russia.
“The Russian Federation is proud to endorse Dana Rohrabacher for Congress,” the announcer says as images of Russian dictator Vladimir Putin and Rohrabacher are on the screen.
While the ad may be a parody (Russia has not endorsed either candidate in the race), the group behind it is not joking around. Red to Blue California created the ad, and is promoting the message with a six-figure ad buy that includes this ad and mailers to be sent to residents in California’s 48th Congressional District, according to the Hill.
“While Congressman Rohrabacher has got away with his allegiances to Russia for decades, the stakes are much higher now,” Andrew Feldman, Red to Blue California spokesman, told the Hill. “Ties to Russia matter when Russia tries to influence our elections. Our Democracy is at risk.”
Feldman is referring to Rohrabacher’s long and well-established ties to Russia. He once told a story of arm-wrestling Putin at a Washington, D.C., dive bar in the early 1990s.
More recently, he is the only member of Congress named in any indictments surrounding special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. Rohrabacher admits he is “old friends” with disgraced former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who was recently convicted of multiple counts of tax fraud in a federal court.
Rohrabacher also met alleged Russian spy Maria Butina both in Russia and at a fancy french restaurant only miles away from the U.S. Capitol. After Butina was arrested, Rohrabacher initially blamed the “deep state,” a wild conspiracy theory embraced by Rohrabacher, Trump, and other members of the right-wing fringe.
Even his fellow Republicans have accused Rohrabacher of being on Putin’s payroll.
Rohrabacher cruised to victory in recent elections, but the latest poll shows him tied with local businessman Harley Rouda. A previous poll had Rouda leading, even in a district where Republicans outnumber Democrats.
Red to Blue California is betting that increased scrutiny of Rohrabacher’s numerous Russia connections will give voters pause in November. Their full ad is below.