LOS ANGELES — A crudely produced video depicting gun-toting black gang members spanking a white, bikini-clad California congressional candidate set off a bipartisan furor Wednesday and illustrated how the power of the anything-goes Internet is influencing political campaigns.
Democrat Janice Hahn, who is portrayed in the ad as a gyrating pole dancer, called the 90-second spot vulgar, racist and sexist. Her Republican rival in the 36th Congressional District, Craig Huey issued a statement saying “our district deserves better.”
“The ad was not authorized and not affiliated with my campaign,” Huey said. “Whether people agree with my politics or not, anyone who knows me can attest to the fact that I would not participate in something of this nature.”
The ad begins by accusing Hahn, who is running for the district that includes Venice, of using taxpayer funds to help free incarcerated gang members, which Hahn’s campaign said was unfounded.
The ad was funded by Turn Right USA, which according to government filings is based in suburban Los Angeles. The group is a fundraising arm for conservative filmmaker Ladd Ehlinger Jr., who posted the ad on his website has a track record of producing provocative political ads.
Ehlinger said in a telephone interview the ad will remain on the Web, despite the criticism and calls to remove it. He said the ad has “a kernel of serious to it” but his critics were missing the joke.
“I’ve always wanted to do a rap video and combine it with a political attack ad and make it so over the top it would drive everyone crazy,” Ehlinger said. “If Michael Moore made video showing (Sarah) Palin stripping for conservative Christian nut-jobs, I don’t think the other side would be condemning it.”
Hahn’s campaign said it planned to ask federal regulators to investigate if Huey’s campaign had any connection to the ad or its producers.