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Donations pouring into congressional race

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Posted: Monday, October 16, 2006 10:00 pm

A slew of negative and sometimes deceptive advertisements are clogging mailboxes, answering machines, televisions and radios in California's 11th Congressional District, funded in part by three months of fundraising that filled the two candidates' coffers at a collective rate of more than $120,000 per week, records show.

The campaign team behind Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, launched television and direct-mail pieces late last week claiming that Pombo's opponent, Democrat Jerry McNerney, "said North Korea should be allowed to develop nuclear weapons without fear of U.S. military intervention."

But McNerney bit back at the Pombo claim, telling the Tracy Press that though he would prefer to see the U.S. contain North Korea's nuclear program with diplomacy and economic sanctions, he would not rule out military options.

"My son was in Korea, and I know the risks and danger of Korea," McNerney said. "We have to use all of the tools that we have available to stop the spread of nuclear weapons. We have to look at North Korea as a containment issue."

McNerney said North Korea's nuclear weapons problem had been more or less stopped until President George W. Bush took office.

"Bush got in, he started mouthing off about the axis of evil, and they threw out the (weapons) inspectors," McNerney said.

McNerney wrote in a project VoteSmart survey that he didn't support the "United States using military force to dismantle the North Korea nuclear weapons program." McNerney deleted the survey answer in late July.

Pombo campaign manager Carl Fogliani insisted that the text in the mailer was "the same thing" as McNerney's Project VoteSmart survey answer.

"Obviously, they already changed their answer on that, because they knew that the voters should be shocked and appalled," Fogliani said.

Meanwhile, the McNerney camp is attacking Pombo over veterans' issues with an advertisement on San Francisco and Sacramento television stations.

"Hundreds of American soldiers lost arms or legs in Iraq," a voice-over says. "Congressman Richard Pombo added insult to injury when he voted against research to improve prosthetic limbs for veterans."

Fogliani said Pombo voted last May against the amendment to the military appropriations bill that would have increased funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs by $53 million, because it would have caused "unnecessary delays in the (Base Realignment and Closure) process." The amendment failed by one vote.

Contact reporter John Upton at jupton@tracypress.com.

"The underlying bill, which was what they were trying to move forward, added a billion dollars over the administration's request to VA health care, which was an 8.5 percent increase over 2005," Fogliani said.

The bill passed, 425-1.

Several groups with relaxed financial reporting rules, including the Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, have also sent direct mail throughout the district on McNerney's behalf.

Pombo held a modest fundraising advantage over McNerney during the quarter ending Sept. 31, raising $921,200. McNerney raised $706,500 during the same period, but he had only $323,800 left in the bank at the end of September, compared with Pombo's $1.14 million. Pombo's campaign said another $400,000 was raised in the early days of October, courtesy of a Bush fund-raiser, and McNerney still had $154,000 in unpaid debts, according to campaign finance reports.

Pombo had raised $3.1 million this campaign cycle by the end of September, while McNerney had raised $1.2 million.

First published: Tuesday, October 17, 2006

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