SACRAMENTO (AP) — Republican Congressman Darrell Issa on Thursday strongly condemned comments by GOP gubernatorial front-runner Tim Donnelly, in which the state lawmaker has tried to tie his Indian-American rival to fundamentalist Islamic law, calling his statements “hateful and ignorant garbage.”
Donnelly, a state assemblyman who is popular with the tea party, has repeatedly said this week that rival Neel Kashkari supported Shariah banking code when he was a senior official at the U.S. Treasury Department in 2008. On Facebook, Donnelly posted a link to a banking seminar hosted by the department during which Kashkari, a Hindu, delivered opening remarks.
“As far as I’m concerned, this type of stupidity disqualifies Tim Donnelly from being fit to hold any office, anywhere. Donnelly is no longer a viable option for California voters,” Issa, who endorsed Kashkari last week, said in a statement.
Aaron McLear, a spokesman for Kashkari, declined to comment on Donnelly’s statements. But he said the seminar at which Kashkari delivered remarks “was about how you can get capitalist free market principles into fundamentalist Islamic countries, not the opposite.”
A Field Poll taken in April showed Donnelly with 17 percent support and Kashkari with 2 percent. Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, is expected to easily win the top spot and advance to the November election. The state’s primary is June 3.
Donnelly has continued to repeat the sentiments, even after apologizing during a live radio interview Wednesday for a message posted to his Twitter account that accused Kashkari of “submission to” Shariah law, a tweet that has since been deleted.
But several posts on the topic remain live on Donnelly’s Facebook page, including a link to the agenda for the 2008 event. Donnelly did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.
It is not the first time Donnelly has come under fire for topics related to race and ethnicity. He was elected to his conservative San Bernardino County district in 2010 after founding a branch of the Minuteman border patrol, which scours the U.S.-Mexico border in search of people attempting to enter the country illegally.
Earlier this week, he was the lone vote in the state Assembly against a bill that prohibits state government departments from selling or displaying items with an image of the Confederate flag. Donnelly’s vote prompted the Assembly Republican caucus to respond with an immediate statement saying the flag “is a symbol of racism, violence, and oppression for many in our state.”
Issa said in his statement Thursday that as a Lebanese Christian, he faced similar unfounded allegations from an opponent when he ran for Congress.
“It is crap like this that gives Republicans a bad name and there is no place in the Republican Party or in this race for someone like Tim Donnelly,” he said.
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