Democratic congressman Ami Bera and Republican challenger Scott Jones debated in Natomas yesterday for California’s 7th Congressional District.
The two candidates have dueled over this hotly contested seat with both accumulating their share of skeletons in their closets.
The debate began with questions regarding a lawsuit filed against the Sheriff’s department. The lawsuit covers allegations by a former female deputy that Jones sexually harassed her. However, Jones insisted that the allegations were false.
“I went under oath and I deny these allegations in the strongest terms possible,” said Jones.
Bera continued to push the allegations issue, saying that they were “pretty shocking what was going on.” This attack mirrors pro-Bera mailers and television ads that paint Jones in a similar light.
But Bera’s character was also called into question. Earlier this year, Bera’s 83-year-old father pleaded guilty to two felony counts of election fraud. Bera’s father, Babulal Bera, used family and friends to illegally contribute above the legal limit to his son’s 2010 and 2012 congressional campaigns.
“My father made a mistake and he shouldn’t have done this,” said Bera during the debate. “He’s not a criminal but he broke the law.”
A federal prosecutor found no evidence that would indicate Bera or anyone in his staff knew of Babulal Bera’s illegal activity.
Jones however believes otherwise. “Either the 90 friends and family of Congressman Bera who all knew what engaged in a conspiracy for four years to keep that information from Congressman Bera,” said Jones, “or alternatively that Congressman Bera didn’t have any substantive conversations with any of those 90 family and friends.”
Since redistricting in 2013, the California 7th has been one of the most hotly contested districts in the country. According to Cook Partisan Voting Index, the district is considered “even.” Bera narrowly won re-election against Doug Ose in 2014. This year should be no different.
Sponsors of the event included the Los Rios Community College District, Sacramento Bee and Folsom lake College which is located within the 7th District.
The election will take place on Tuesday, Nov. 8. The deadline for voter registration California is Oct. 24.