ELECTION '12//CONGRESS 15
May 1, 2012 | In just over four months, the East Bay has weathered through a decades worth of scandal and bizarre events. Hey, what's one more?
Not yet a month after leveling bribery charges against Dublin Councilman Eric Swalwell, in addition to charging him with not voting in the last six elections in California, Rep. Pete Stark told the editorial board of the San Francisco Chronicle one of its columnists made a donation to Swalwell's campaign.
Stark later apologized to conservative columnist Debra Saunders after he, at first, could not locate the evidence and then offered the name of another unknown Tri Valley writer, but the damage was done.
It's yet another odd exchange showing Stark carelessly tossing allegations at his Democratic opponent. While other reporters will speculate about Stark's mental faculties after Tuesday's bout with paranoia, his more immediate problem is a reliance on political intelligence coming from a 16-year-old.
Who the hell is in charge of Stark's campaign? Who knows? Because Stark is notoriously adverse to communicating with the press. Google "Stark" and some form of "his office did not respond for comment." Obviously, Stark's campaign is not vetting these ultimately false sensational stories because they are coming straight from his son, Fish Stark.
Following the infamous candidate's forum in Hayward last month when Stark called Swalwell a "fucking crook," Stark deferred my question about his belief Swalwell was lax in his voting record to his teenage son. Fish told me he perused Swalwell's voting record from the Alameda County Registrar of Voters and found he had not missed the last six elections as his father said earlier, "but we think the last three." None of that was ultimately correct. Swalwell skipped voting in the state for three years a decade ago while away at college.
The exchange was weird, at the time, but somewhat adorable--a teenage son getting involved in dad's congressional campaign. Sadly, the incident at the Chronicle, appears to be an extension of Fish's intel work. Stark even tips his cap to Fish's "find" as he searches for Saunders' name in a folder.
Just like Stark's controversial bribery charge, he needs to quickly explain why he's taking political advice from a pre-adolescent before more voters, other than Tea Party nutballs, start believing he's gone to cuckooland. And, no, in this case, we're not talking about Washington, D.C.