By Barrett Newkirk
A new TV ad paid for by a Democratic political action committee frames Republican congressional hopeful Assemblyman Brian Nestande as a heavy user of lawmaker perks.
Launched two weeks before Election Day, the 30-second spot hits Nestande, of Palm Desert, for getting nearly $200,000 in expense reimbursements, more than $15,000 for “gas and maintenance” costs for his personal vehicle as well as trips paid for by outside groups while in the Assembly, where he has served for six years.
Nestande cannot seek re-election because of term limits. He is campaigning to unseat first-term Democrat Raul Ruiz, of Palm Desert, for the 36th Congressional District.
The ad comes from the Democratic House Majority PAC, which said on its website it was spending at least $85,158 to air the ad in the Palm Springs market starting Tuesday. The super PAC also spent money to help Ruiz before the June primary election.
In a news release, the Nestande campaign said the ad represents former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi returning the favor after Ruiz backed her in 2013 for the leadership post.
The release says Nestande saved taxpayers money by driving his “old GMC Yukon” instead of a state-provided car, cut his own pay and supported suspending Legislature pay if the budget is not balanced.
“Ruiz has quickly earned his doctorate at political hypocrisy,” Nestande Campaign Manager Greg Wallis said in the release. “His pledge of a clean campaign during the recent candidate debate is now as clear as a desert mirage.”
In response, Ruiz Campaign Manager Jerah Smith accused Nestande of his own hypocrisy, noting that Speaker John Boehner was recently in the area to support Nestande.
Both candidates have now stressed their frugal tastes in automobiles. Ruiz is airing an ad in which he talks about still driving the same car — without power windows — that he leased as a medical intern.
From The Desert Sun on October 21, 2014.