An Ocean View School District Board of Education candidate, who came under fire for alleged bigoted remarks made online, denied the allegations Friday and claimed she has become a political football in the congressional election battle between Rep. Dana Rohrabacher and his Democratic opponent.
The Greater Los Angeles Area chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations stood by its criticism of the Orange County Republican Party for its endorsement of Gracey Van Der Mark, a member of the Huntington Beach Finance Commission, who also earned an endorsement from Rohrabacher.
“As a Latina from a Mexican and Ecuadorian background, I am deeply disturbed by the unfair and unfounded accusation that I would ever associate myself with an ideology that hates who I am, who my seven children are and who my husband is as a biracial African American man,” Van Der Mark said.
Van Der Mark described herself as a “former Democrat, who attended a training on `white privilege’ in Santa Monica,” the source of the firestorm that erupted when she commented about the gathering.
CAIR officials cited an OC Weekly article referring to a now-deleted YouTube video in which she is accused of joining a group of “right-wing protesters” at an anti-racism workshop in Santa Monica last year. In a comment on the video, she is accused of writing, “This meeting was being ran by the elderly Jewish people who were in there. The colored people were there doing what the elderly Jewish people instructed them to do.”
Van Der Mark said, “I disagreed with the contents of the training and felt it belittled me as a minority woman. On social media I described the meeting as it was explained to me by one of the organizers. Those were her words and not mine. I posted those comments to expose how we were viewed by those organizing the event. I regret not being clearer in my posting.”
The alternative newspaper also reported she created a playlist on YouTube dubbed, “Holocaust hoax?” Van Der Mark reportedly later said the playlist was “research,” according to CAIR.
Van Der Mark claimed that was a “false accusation,” and said she was sent the video and saved it to watch later.
“I did not view the material,” she said. “Never did I support or promote it.”
Hussam Ayloush, CAIR-LA’s executive director, said he stood by his organization’s “repudiation of the bigoted rhetoric of Ms. Larrea-Van Der Mark and her endorsement by the Republican Party of Orange County. Nowhere in her statements does she address the Islamophobic statements she made on social media or attempt to deny, explain or apologize for her derogative statements about African Americans or Jews at that meeting. Her views on marginalized minorities have been well documented, in spite of her attempts to delete them. In 46 days, we hope the voters reject Ms. Larrea-Van Der Mark, her disgusting bigotry and the OC GOP’s endorsement of such views.”
Democratic businessman Harley Rouda, who is hoping to unseat Rohrabacher in November, condemned the Huntington Beach Republican’s endorsement of Van Der Mark on Thursday.
Rouda campaign spokesman Jack d’Annibale said, “We stand by our statement made yesterday. Dana Rohrabacher should revoke his endorsement of Gracey Van Der Mark and also denounce all of his other documented associations with white supremacists and anti-Semites.”
Van Der Mark said, “I am aware these false attacks are not about me,” referring to the congressional campaign.
“They are about preserving the status quo at the Ocean View School Board,” she said, adding, “They are about dragging me into a congressional race in an attempt to harm … Rohrabacher and they are about damaging the perception of the Republican Party weeks before the mid-term elections.”
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