Congressman David Valadao’s newest attack ad against Democratic challenger Emilio Huerta paints him as a chainsaw-wielding madman who used intimidation to try to take a woman’s land and water well.
The problem: several of the ad’s claims are false, according to Kern County Superior Court records.
The ad, titled “Dangerous,” starts with Valadao’s voice saying, “I approved this message” and then slides in a reference to a Huerta land deal in Fresno County that Valadao has criticized in earlier spots.
Then it moves into Chainsaw Massacre territory.
“Huerta sued a woman to get her land and water wells,” the female narrator states. “She was harassed and even threatened with a buzzsaw.”
The property battle referenced took place in 2007 and 2008 in Keene, where the United Farm Workers’ headquarters, La Paz, is located.
Huerta said he was an officer of Stonybrook Corp., the entity that managed the La Paz property for the UFW and its related entities.
The property had a water well that the neighbors wanted, Huerta said. The situation got nasty, he said, and ended up in Kern County Superior Court in July 2007.
A year later, on July 22, 2008, the court ruled that while there had been an error in recording the transfer of the property from the UFW to Stonybrook, the disputed property belonged to Stonybrook.
According to court records, Valadao’s ad is factually inaccurate. You can’t sue someone to get “her land and water wells” if she does not own the land or water wells.
The Californian asked Valadao’s campaign to address the issue of the ownership of the property.
“The fact is a woman filed a restraining order against Emilio Huerta because she felt threatened and frightened,” responded Valadao spokesman Cole Rojewski. “While legal disputes and mediation are common, threatening a woman with physical violence is never appropriate.”
And that brings us to the bit about the chainsaw.
According to Kern County Superior Court records provided by the Huerta campaign, there is no proof Haas was ever threatened. The claim was dismissed. And Haas clearly stated in court documents that Huerta wasn’t there when the harassment allegedly happened.
According to the Oct. 29, 2008, “Request for Orders to Stop Harassment” Haas filed with the court against Huerta, a six-person team of Stonybrook staff led by the corporation’s project manager Rudy Delgado shoved her and threatened her with sticks and a “buzzsaw” on Oct. 12, 2008.
Haas claimed the crew threatened her at Huerta’s direction. But he wasn’t there.
Huerta said the crew never threatened her, and neither did he.
“I never walked around with a chainsaw or sticks or stones and threatened people,” Huerta said.
Huerta said the crew was on the property, which is a natural watershed, doing an annual clean-up of brush that grows thick in the area.
“They were using chainsaws to clean up brush and debris,” Huerta said.
The court never approved Haas’ request for a preliminary restraining order.
Meanwhile, the House Majority PAC, a Democratic campaign cash powerhouse, has launched another independent ad in support of Huerta’s bid for the 21st District seat.
It resurrects a claim from a Democratic-leaning watchdog group that named Valadao one of the “most corrupt” people in Congress.
The claim is based on the fact Valadao, in June 2013, offered an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2014 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill that would have defunded the California high-speed rail project in the 21st District — potentially removing impacts the project would have on nearly $1.8 million in property owned by him, his family and their dairy business.
But Valadao, despite detailed facts reported by The Fresno Bee, was cleared of any corruption by a bipartisan House ethics committee – the Office of Congressional Ethics.