The Ventura County Star reports that my CA Assemblyman Jeff Gorell (R-Thousand Oaks), and three other members of the California Republican Assembly Caucus abused their public mailing privileges by sending nearly 260,000 deceptive mailers to their constituents.
According to a former opponent of his that I spoke with, it wouldn't be the first time Gorell has been linked to deceptive mailers.
Instead of directing constituents who desire to take advantage of the state's Affordable Care Act health insurance exchange, the mailer "labeled as 'A California Resource Guide' to explain federal health care reform", points constituents to a fake website created by state Republicans. Rather than the official CoveredCA.com website, the new mailers direct the recipient to CoveringHealthCareCA.com, a bogus Republican site which, though attempting to appear to be the official CA health care exchange site, doesn't actually provide the ability to shop for or purchase policies.
"Though it launched in August," ABC News reports, "the site made waves this week after a number of GOP Assembly members sent out mailers to their constituents, highlighting the page as a 'resource guide' for information on the Affordable Care Act."
The deceptive, publicly funded mailers sent by the self-described "fiscal conservatives" cost CA taxpayers $77,496, according to the Star's public records request. The money, they report, came from the state Assembly's "taxpayer-funded operating budget."
Since the fraud was exposed, the LA Times reports, the GOP site has added some links to the official CA health care site. The original site, according to Karoli at Crooks and Liars who helped expose the scam, included "links to negative articles and twisted messages intended to sour people on signing up for health insurance before they ever land at the official health exchange site."
The effort comes on the heels of a what ABC describes as an "onslaught of fake insurance sites popping up in the state --- 10 of which were shut down by Calif. Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris in November --- since the implementation of Obamacare."
This is not the first occasion in which Gorell, an outspoken opponent of the Affordable Care Act, has been tied to deceptive constituent mailers. Last year, the chairman of a local Democratic Club asked me to speak on the subject of GOP voter suppression laws and e-voting issues. While there, I was approached by Democrat Eileen MacEnery, Gorell's unsuccessful 2012 Assembly opponent. She was still miffed by what she described as a deceptive Gorell mailer. In it, she told me, Gorell included his name and photo, alongside those of Democratic Sen. Diane Feinstein and Rep. Julia Brownley. MacEnery claimed the mailer falsely implied that the Democratic Party supported all three, even though Gorell is a dedicated member of the GOP.
Gorell was the only local Republican who retained a seat in my area after state redistricting converted what had been a Republican-majority district into one where registered Democrats hold a slim majority. Last month, Gorell announced that he will challenge Brownley for her seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Hopefully local voters will keep his deceptive record in mind when any of Gorell's mailings show up in their mailbox.