SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – The war of words on the airwaves for candidates of California’s 7th Congressional district are ramping up as we near the November 8th election.
Last week, incumbent congressman Ami Berra (D-Elk Grove) released an attack ad against Sacramento Sheriff Scott Jones bringing up allegations of misconduct with another deputy.
“Serious sex allegations against Sacramento Sheriff Scott Jones,” says the ad, which is a combination of television and newspaper reports.
Jones is currently facing a lawsuit after a deputy claims she was repeatedly sexually harassed by the now congressional candidate.
“I just don’t think Scott Jones is qualified to be a member of congress,” said Bera, speaking with CBS13 on Monday morning.
The allegations stem from incidents 13 years ago.
“There is this pattern of disrespect towards women,” said Bera.
Scott Jones declined to talk on camera, instead, giving a statement that reads in part, “Congressman Bera’s increasingly desperate campaign has sunk to a new low by airing an ad containing allegations that are not only 13 years old, but are patently false.”
The statement continues, “I call on Bera to immediately pull down this false smear ad.”
On Monday afternoon, Jones countered by releasing an ad on what he calls the truth.
“Scott has a stellar record. He’s a strong and fair leader,” say the people in the ad, most of which are current employees of Jones at the sheriff’s department.
The deputies are wearing some form of a uniform with the patches and badges covered.
“We work with Scott, and we support him for congress,” the ad continues.
Former sheriff, friend and Jones supporter, John McGinness says while campaigning in the past, he typically used third-party supporters rather than employees.
“I would not have been adverse to it,” said McGinness, “but I don’t recall having done so.”
So is there a legal or ethical issue with using public employees in campaign ads?
“They all enjoy a first amendment right to express themselves,” said McGinness.
The Jones campaign says all the participants acted on a volunteer basis on their own time and were not compensated for their work. They also did not wear the official uniform.
“There may be employees in the organization that will come out and support Dr. Bera. That’s a possibility, but neither side should be silenced,” said McGinness, “they have an absolute right.”