Republican Doug Ose is pushing back on an outside group that has spent more than $100,000 in recent days on ads that portray the former congressman as more concerned about his own salary than protecting benefits for military veterans.
The House Majority PAC, a left-leaning group known for its searing attacks on Republicans, had already booked $189,610 in fall TV airtime ads to help protect freshman Rep. Ami Bera, D-Elk Grove. With the primary election days away, the organization opted to begin advertising now.
The military-focused ads, which typically appeal to more conservative voters, are forcing Ose to protect his right flank as he campaigns against congressional aide Igor Birman and autism advocate Elizabeth Emken.
On Thursday, Ose called a news conference to denounce the attacks. Joined by combat veterans, he said the Democratic-affiliated PAC is mounting a deceptive campaign in an attempt to ensure Bera faces a weaker Republican in November.
"I don't think it comes as any surprise that Nancy Pelosi believes that I stand in the way of Democrats regaining the U.S. House Representatives' majority and that clearly she'll use her super PAC to advance that cause so that she can become speaker again," Ose said.
"Let's be clear about one very specific issue here: I stand with American veterans. I always have. I stand by my record. I stand by my commitment to those who have served out nation so faithfully and my record, my legislative record, my private activities, back that up."
The mailers and a 30-second television ad running in the 7th district contend Ose voted for a bill to slash $15 billion from veterans' retirement, pay and education benefits. They also attack him for a separate vote to allow for a congressional pay raise.
Ose said the outside group is distorting a vote he cast on a budget measure intended by Democrats to embarrass Republicans politically. He says that while he was in office, between 1999 and 2005, the Veterans Affairs budget swelled to $69 billion annually from $43 billion.
His campaign also issued a two-page list of legislation he supported to assist members of the military, veterans and their families by expanding healthcare, housing and retirement and noted that he represented two active and two decommissioned military bases.
As one of the House's wealthiest members, Ose said he never voted for his own pay raise but acknowledged casting a procedural vote that effectively allowed an automatic raise to take place.
"I made a mistake on that one vote in six years," Ose said. "I went back on the floor. I ate crow. I took my medicine. I clarified the record."
PHOTO: Former Rep. Doug Ose, a Sacramento Republican, chats with a group of military veteran supporters outside the state Capitol on Thursday. The Sacramento Bee/Christopher Cadelago.