In an email to Carter on Thursday, Ashjian took issue with remarks Carter made Tuesday at a candidate town hall session with one of her opponents, Garry Bredefeld, in which Carter falsely claimed that Bredefeld once waved a “Nazi sign” in a protest against a local business during his first City Council term in 2000.
“I’m very troubled by the news I’ve read in The Bee and the numerous phone calls I’ve received from my Jewish friends and Armenian constituents over Tuesday’s town hall,” Ashjian said in his message. “Beyond being fast and loose with the ‘facts,’ your decision to score dirty political points by referring to two members of the Armenian community as Nazis by default and use an old, unrelated article to refer to them as members of the KKK is beyond reprehensible.”
Taking Garry (Bredefeld) to task for his positions is one thing, but to say to a man who was raised Jewish that he was carrying a Nazi sign is a disgrace.
Brooke Ashjian, withdrawing endorsement from City Council candidate Holly Carter
“I expect you to know better as a crisis communicator and public relations expert,” he added. In his email, Ashjian pointed out that the protest over the controversial “Fresno 40” development at Friant Road and Audubon Drive – in which one resident and not Bredefeld carried a sign with “KKK” in reference to developers “Kashian, Koligian and Kompany,” rather than a “Nazi sign” as Carter asserted – “was about the Woodward Park Association and their objections to a developer and a project.”
Ashjian also scolded Carter for breaking “your promise to me not to engage in dirty / nasty campaigning.
“Taking Garry to task for his positions is one thing, but to say to a man who was raised Jewish that he was carrying a Nazi sign is a disgrace,” he wrote. “Blackballing, hate language and garbage politics is not what I stand for.”
Carter said she was “troubled” by Ashjian’s email message.
“For him to extrapolate that I did anything disparaging to the Armenian community or the Jewish community is offensive and egregious,” she said Thursday afternoon. “Anybody is free to say whatever they want. People can hurl false accusations … but I’m tired of the twisting and sensationalizing of this campaign.”
Carter added that she had considered Ashjian to be a friend, “but I know he’s under a lot of pressure with the FBI investigation into Fresno Unified and whether it was inappropriate for him to bid on (district) projects.” Federal investigators are examining Fresno Unified’s practices in no-bid lease-leaseback contracts for school construction. Ashjian’s company, Seal Rite Paving, was disqualified as a subcontractor for a competitively bid project at an elementary school, but that issue is separate from the FBI’s inquiry into no-bid contracts.
Ashjian originally endorsed Carter when she was the only declared candidate for the District 6 council seat being vacated by Lee Brand. “I liked that she wanted to fix the planning process, I liked that she was pro-business and that she owns a small business,” Ashjian told The Bee on Thursday. “I still like Holly Carter, but I don’t like what she did.”
Ashjian requested that Carter remove him from her list of endorsements and his name from her campaign materials. He added that he doesn’t plan to throw his support behind either Bredefeld, who a practicing psychologist, or businessman / Elvis Presley impersonator Jeremy Pearce in the District 6 race. “I’m staying out of this one,” he said.