Hawaii continues to be a hot topic for opponents of Republican Rep. Dan Lungren's re-election bid.
The campaign of 3rd Congressional District Democratic candidate Ami Bera is airing a new television spot blasting the Republican incumbent for attending a 2008 aviation industry conference at a Hawaii resort.
The 30-second spot features Hawaiian shirt-clad constituents alleging that Lungren used a "loophole" to get around ethics rules prohibiting members from taking such trips on the lobbyists' dime.
Though House ethics rules ban interest groups from footing the bill for trips, Lungren was able to use campaign funds to pay for the trip for him and his wife because the group was also hosting an on-site fundraiser to benefit his re-election bid. Lungren has maintained that he did nothing illegal or wrong and that the trip was cleared by the House Ethics Committee.
The Bera campaign has been using the trip in its attacks since July, launching a website to detail its allegations. The trip was used as an attack by Lungren's 2008 challenger, Democrat Bill Durston. A left-leaning independent group is also running an ad on the issue in the district this cycle.
Lungren campaign consultant Rob Stutzman responded that Bera is "trying to re-litigate old issues instead of talking about himself" and campaign issues, calling the Elk Grove doctor a "tax-and-spend liberal" hand-picked by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
"(Voters) heard (this attack) two years ago and I think they understand that there was nothing wrong with the trip and that it's these types of attacks, non-substantive attacks that often come from candidates who know they will lose on discussion of the issues," he said.
Bera campaign manager Lucinda Guinn said the spot is airing on broadcast and cable stations throughout the district. The campaign is also running online banner advertisements with the same attack.
This post was updated at 1:22 p.m. with a quote from Rob Stutzman.