The battle between Rep. Dana Rohrabacher and his one-time campaign director, Scott Baugh, who is challenging his re-election, heated up Thursday as he accused the congressman of lying about his support of President Donald Trump and his stance on immigration issues.
Baugh, a former chairman of the Orange County Republican Party, sent a letter Wednesday to the organization demanding an ethics investigation of Rohrabacher’s mailers to constituents in Orange County’s 48th Congressional District.
Baugh denied he was a “Never Trumper” as Rohrabacher, R-Huntington Beach, alleges in campaign material.
Baugh told City News Service that after Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, his preferred presidential candidate, dropped out of the race in May 2016, Baugh turned to fundraising for Trump.
“It’s absurd,” Baugh said of the claims he never wanted Trump elected president. “I’ve even said glowing things about him after his State of the Union and his address to Congress. It’s preposterous for them to make up lies, but that’s what you do when you run a desperate campaign.”
Baugh also objected to Rohrabacher claiming Baugh was for “amnesty” for immigrants living in the nation illegally.
“That’s his playbook — just accuse your enemy of being for amnesty,” Baugh said.
“We don’t need a new pathway to citizenship,” he said. “If you want to become an American citizen, you have to follow the rules and the rules are you fill out an application and you shouldn’t get to the front of the line because you got here illegally.”
Baugh acknowledged that in the past he has called for some changes to immigration law.
“We should explore ways to recognize there’s a labor supply and a labor demand and as long as that is true we need a work permit program that recognizes that,” Baugh said.
Baugh also recognizes the dilemma of children brought to the country illegally by their parents.
“But there shouldn’t be any reform or deal until you have the border secured,” Baugh said. “Because I know what happens. I saw in 1986 the amnesty plan with President Reagan. They didn’t secure the border and it signaled to everyone to come to America legally or not.
“So I don’t think you do anything with any group until you secure the border. Once you do that you stopped the problem from getting worse and then you can solve the problem.”
Baugh said he “objects” to the children of undocumented immigrants being used as a “political football.” But he also opposed the program ordered by President Barack Obama that gave those children brought to the country illegally some documentation and status.
“As a general rule you should not get to the front of the line if you’re not here legally — period,” Baugh said.
Baugh also brushed off Rohrabacher claims that he was aligned with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
“I ran the party here for 10 years and I was the Republican leader in the (Assembly),” Baugh said.
Baugh is airing a campaign commercial accusing Rohrabacher of only passing three bills in his three decades in Congress and for spending taxpayer money on flights around the globe to support marijuana legalization issues and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Messages left with Rohrabacher’s congressional spokesman and his campaign were not immediately returned.