October 23rd, 2006

Vietnamese American Candidate Accused of Voter Intimidation

During the 2000 and 2004 elections, Republicans were accused of trying suppress minority and immigrant votes in many key states. Whether they are true or not, it’s pretty clear that voter intimidation is more associated with conservatives and Republicans than it is with liberals and Democrats. Are Republicans in fact more likely to try to suppress votes? It certainly doesn’t help their cause with stories like this -- a Republican Vietnamese American candidate has been accused of illegally intimidating Democratic Hispanic voters in California:

[T]he investigation appeared to be focused on the campaign of Tan D. Nguyen, a Republican challenger to Democratic U.S. Rep. Loretta Sanchez. The letter, written in Spanish, tells recipients: “You are advised that if your residence in this country is illegal or you are an immigrant, voting in a federal election is a crime that could result in jail time.” In fact, immigrants who are naturalized U.S. citizens can vote. . . .

Scott Baugh, chairman of the Orange County Republican Party, condemned the letter as “an obnoxious, grotesque piece of work.” “Regardless of who did it -- Republican or Democrat -- if it’s a crime, then whoever did it should be prosecuted,” Baugh said. A group of six Vietnamese-American political candidates running for offices in Orange County issued a joint statement saying: “The content of this mailer is offensive to the immigrant voters, regardless of their ethnicity.”

The note’s letterhead resembles that of an anti-illegal immigration group, California Coalition for Immigration Reform, but group leader Barbara Coe said she told investigators for the attorney general’s office Wednesday that her group didn’t authorize the letter and she didn’t know who sent it. . . . Numerous political leaders including Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger have denounced the letter and called for the investigations.

Tan Nguyen has denied having any knowledge of this act, instead blaming his one of his campaign workers for unilaterally creating and mailing these flyers. As a Vietnamese American myself, I really want to believe him. However, given how rabid -- and yes even extremist -- many Vietnamese Americans can be in terms of their political expressions, I’m afraid that I’m a little skeptical at his excuse. In fact, I think he’s lying.

If Tan Nguyen is the person responsible for this act, all I have to say is -- Wow. In one fell swoop, Nguyen has managed to (1) commit an illegal fact in violation of federal voting laws, (2) cause his own political party to denounce such actions, (3) mobilized his Democratic opponents to capitalize on such a monumental bonehead move, and (3) embarrass the entire Vietnamese American community, regardless of political beliefs.

Nice job, Tan. You deserve to go down for that -- hard.

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