Probably by now, you’ve heard about GOP Congressional Candidate Tan Nguyen’s campaign releasing a letter to about 14,000 voters in the 47th Congressional District. This letter stated:
“You are advised that if your residence in this country is illegal or you are an immigrant [emphasis mine], voting in a federal election is a crime that could result in jail time, and you will be deported for voting without having a right to do so.”
“At the same time, you are advised that the government of the United States is installing a new computer system to verify the names of all new registered voters that vote in the October and November elections. Anti-immigration organizations can ask for information from this new voting system.”
As you can see, Tan Nguyen was trying to mislead naturalized US citizens who were recently registered to vote in to thinking that if these new Americans actually exercised their legal right to vote, that they could still be imprisoned and/or deported. This is a clear violation of federal election law, and this has already placed Tan Nguyen’s campaign into deep legal turmoil.
In fact, I was at Tan Nguyen’s campaign office last Friday. I went to Garden Grove expecting a press conference with the candidate. Instead, Tan was nowhere to be found… I have a feeling that he did not come because someone tipped him off to the state police raid. On Friday, California Attorney General Bill Lockyer obtained a court warrant to search Tan Nguyen’s campaign office. So when the previously-scheduled Tan Nguyen press conference was about to begin, Tan could not be found. Instead, California Department of Justice agents were searching the office for evidence. They searched all the computer files, and ultimately decided to take the computers with them for further investigation.
Local, national, and internet journalists were there to cover the impromptu raid. Orange County Democratic Party officials were there to denounce Nguyen’s fear-mongering among the Latino community. Minutemen and other “anti-illegal immigration” activists were there to condemn “illegal immigration”. Meanwhile, World Can’t Wait and pro-immigrant activists were there to condemn GOP tactics of race-baiting.
This planned “press conference” had devolved into a complete fiasco, with all of us wondering what the heck happened to Tan Nguyen… How was it that the candidate was not at his office an hour before the scheduled press event, which also just happened to be the time that state agents arrived in Garden Grove? Apparently, neither could he be found at his home, where additional state agents had gone to search for evidence. Oh, and how was it that Tan’s personal criminal defense attorney, David Weichert, was conveniently at the campaign office at the time of the state police raid? Hmmm, this sounds like someone tipped off Tan. Well perhaps Tan evaded an embarrassing situation, but he nevertheless became the most ridiculed candidate in the entire county.
Well, just when it looked like Tan was going down in flames… I got a wild surprise! After being condemned by both the Democratic and Republican parties, Tan called a press conference today, and he actually showed up this time! After being called upon by OC GOP Chairman Scott Baugh to resign, Tan Nguyen just announced that he will still be running against incumbent Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Garden Grove). Tan stated that “there is no crime committed”, and that “all the Democrats, as well as Scott Baugh, the Chairman of the Orange County Republican Party, made a rush to judgment.” Later at this press conference, Bill Braniff, attorney for Tan Nguyen for Congress campaign, claimed that the campaign engaged in a legal activity by sending out the now-infamous “Immigrants can’t vote” letter. He also claimed that Tan did not personally approve of the letter, yet he never explained how the campaign had obtained an English version of the letter. In addition, Braniff never let us know who exactly was behind the letter. All in all, this press conference of Tan’s was simply a futile attempt to spin his horrid voter intimidation scandal.
h, and I must close this report with Tan’s new spin on the “Immigrants can’t vote” letter. When reporters began to connect the dots that Tan Nguyen’s campaign sent the letter, Tan denied any involvement. Now, he’s saying that someone with the campaign obtained a copy of the letter in English, and the letter originally stated that:
“…If you are here illegally or are just a resident with a green card, you should be advised that voting in any Federal Election is a crime and may result in imprisonment, and WILL result in deportation.”
Now, Tan is saying that this certain someone involved with the campaign (never specified as a paid worker or a volunteer) mistranslated this letter into stating that if “you are an immigrant, voting in a federal election is a crime”. However he originally stated that he had no prior knowledge of this letter, and that this was all the fault of one female staffer (which was a bald-faced lie, because he never had a female staffer). Also, Tan never explained why this letter was written on California Coalition for Immigration Reform letterhead. Tan could have gotten Barbara Coe and her cohorts in deep legal trouble that they actually were not a part of this time! Yep, Tan could very well end up “telling it like it is”… from jail!
Andrew Davey is currently studying political science at the University of San Diego. However when he’s not studying politics in the classroom, he is practicing it outside the classroom. He leads the Santa Ana Precinct Captain program for the Orange County Democrats, and serves on the board of directors for the San Diego Stonewall Young Democrats and the Eleanor Roosevelt Democratic Club (Orange County). Andrew resides in Santa Ana, California.
For pictures relating to this story and more updates on the scene in Orange County, visit his site, “Andrew’s Wild and Wonderful Blog.”