PA-8: ‘California Brian’ Website Prompts FEC Complaint
Despite being the brother of Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick, the younger brother only jumped in the race last January.
The newcomer is not shy, though, as evidenced by the FEC complaint that was filed against the campaign of Democratic candidate and State Rep. Steve Santarsiero.
The complaint did not come from the Fitzpatrick campaign but rather the Pennsylvania Republican Party. It concerns a parody website being planned by the Santarsiero team. It contained photoshopped pictures of Fitzpatrick as well as a letter supposedly written by him. The site generally portrayed him as a carpetbagger from California through numerous surfing references.
“I called on the FEC to investigate Democrat Steve Santarsiero today because the evidence is clear that his dirty trick website broke the law,” said PA GOP Chair Rob Gleason. “By running a website claiming to be another candidate for Congress, Democrat Steve Santarsiero resorted to the lowest of the lows. Santarsiero is a desperate career Democrat politician who is looking at the end of his political career in 2016.”
It is quite common for campaign and candidate committees to create parody websites so it’s difficult to discern why the state party chose to do this. It may be related to the fact that for some time Fitzpatrick didn’t have a website. Even today, it is just one rather rudimentary page.
Regardless, the Santarsiero team went ahead and created the website anyway although with a different name.
“While Brian Fitzpatrick’s run for Congress is based only on a last name, he hasn’t made it a priority to have a website or stake out any issue positions,” Santarsiero Campaign Manager Eric Goldman stated. “We believe this district deserves someone who has been working in the community for years, raising a family here and who will put voters – not their own political ambitions first – and that is the point of CaliforniaBrian.com. If Brian wants to stake some bold issue positions, he can start by asking the Pennsylvania Republican Party to stop wasting taxpayer money on frivolous FEC complaints.”
Besides the California references, the homepage features a fictitious letter from the candidate:
Orange Bucks County!
Dudes and Dudettes – you may have heard a little something about me. Yeah, it’s true I’ve been avoiding some interviews, but that’s because journalists are always asking gotcha questions like “why are you running for Congress” and “where do you live?“ So I finally put up a website to get you the straight facts. It’s true I’ve been living in California for the last few years. And yeah, that’s where I’ve spent my time and where I’ve been registered to vote, but I’m really a Bucks County boy at heart. So imagine my surprise when I just so happened to quit my job and move back to Pennsylvania right as my big brother Mike decided to LEAVE HIS JOB as a Congressman! What a coincidence!
And yeah, I’m a Fitzpatrick. But I don’t want you to give me a pass just ‘cause the name. No — I want you to treat me just like you’d treat any regular Joe who moved 3,000 miles from Sunny Southern California on a whim to run for office in Pennsylvania. Oh and did I mention… My last name is Fitzpatrick?
Fitzpatrick vs. Naughton
Meanwhile, the other Democratic candidate in the race fired the first shot across the bow.
Shaughnessy Naughton denounced Fitzpatrick for calling for the defunding of Planned Parenthood during a forum for PA-8 GOP candidates.
“I thank Brian Fitzpatrick for his service to our country, but on this issue he is just wrong,” said Shaughnessy Naughton. “His views are dangerous and put women and families at risk. As a scientist who researched breast cancer, I know that Planned Parenthood provides vital services to women and families, particularly for breast cancer screenings.”
It’s worth pointing out that Naughton chose to hit Fitzpatrick on this issue rather than his assertion that climate change is not a man-made phenomenon. Naughton is an ardent environmentalist who has emphasized similar issues in the past.
This incident suggests a more gender-focused strategy which may be linked to the fact that Hillary Clinton is likely to head the Democratic ticket in November.
The next day, the Naughton campaign went after Fitzpatrick again, although this time it was on guns.
“I appreciate Brian’s service to our country, but the voters in Bucks and Montgomery counties deserve to know if he sides with the NRA or 92% of Americans,” said Shaughnessy Naughton. “I support this commonsense legislation to require all gun buyers to undergo a background check. Additionally, in Congress I will fight to overturn the NRA’s ban on gun violence research by the Centers for Disease Control. Gun violence is a public health crisis and we need to study the best methods to fight this epidemic.”
PoliticsPA reached out to the Fitzpatrick campaign multiple times but did not receive a response.