Congressional candidate Justin Fareed accused Rep. Salud Cabajal of being funded by a “Nazi collaborator” in two mass campaign emails this week — before backing off the claim a day later after further research.
“It’s truly unbelievable,” one fundraising email sent Tuesday by Team Fareed reads. “Please help me rid Congress of someone who receives major campaign contributions from a corrupt mega donor and who disparages our western values.”
Fareed’s campaign cited a Feb. 7 Santa Maria Sun article that recapped last quarter’s fundraising in the 24th Congressional District race, in which Republicans Fareed and Morro Bay engineer Michael Erin Woody are running to unseat freshman incumbent Carbajal.
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Team Fareed echoed a debunked internet rumor that has spread through Fox News, InfoWars, author Dinesh D’Souza and alt-right media figures that George Soros “began acquiring his wealth during the Holocaust, on the backs and at the cost of millions of innocent victims’ lives as a Nazi collaborator.”
The campaign also alleged that Soros “bankrupted millions of retirees and almost broke The Bank of England” in the 1990s and “has funded $18 billion dollars towards 527 left-wing and socialist political organizations,” statements that have been debated.
“This is the ilk supporting Salud Carbajal,” the email reads. “Californians deserve unwavering leadership for working people, taxpayers, and small businesses — NOT out-of-touch, billionaire national socialists and Nazi collaborators like the Soros.”
A subsequent email titled “Simply disgusting” doubled down on Soros’ “horrendous past” and included a 60 Minutes interview of Soros from 1998 in which anchor Steve Kroft recounts how Soros’ father split up the Jewish family and bribed a German government official to take in the 14-year-old and pretend he was a Christian.
“While hundreds of thousands of Hungarian Jews were being shipped off to the death camps, George Soros accompanied his phony godfather on his appointed rounds: confiscating property from the Jews,” Kroft narrates.
Soros said in the interview that he “was only a spectator” and “had no role in taking away that property.”
Despite being disproven, the allegation that Soros survived the German occupation of his native Budapest by helping Germans confiscate the lands of his fellow Jewish friends and neighbors continues to make the rounds on right-wing media.
The fact-checking website Snopes.com, for example, categorizes the claim as “false” and notes that Soros was 9 years old when World War II began and 14 years old when Germany surrendered.
“Quite to the contrary, Soros and his entire family were obliged to hide their identities and pose as Christians to avoid being forcibly housed in ghettos, interned in concentration camps, deported, or killed during the 10-month Nazi occupation of Hungary beginning in 1944,” the site reads.
On Wednesday, Fareed’s campaign sent a “correction” email saying Fareed chose to send the original emails after watching the “60 Minutes” interview.
“After looking into the matter more closely, I realized that this aspect of the Soros record is disputed and controversial,” the email reads. “On that basis, I retract that allegation and will let you draw your own conclusions about it.”
On Thursday, Fareed’s campaign manager, Austin Stukins, said that there was nothing factually inaccurate in the emails and the premise that an “out-of-district billionaire mega donor” doesn’t share “Central Coast values” is legitimate.
(The email) still presents a factual picture of who George Soros is, regardless.
Austin Stukins, campaign manager for Congressional candidate Justin Fareed
Stukins wouldn’t say whether Fareed personally wrote the emails, saying they came from the campaign. He also wouldn’t say what led to the retraction or whether the assertion that Soros is a Nazi collaborator remains “disputed.”
“I think we corrected the record with our supporters,” Stukins said. “(The email) still presents a factual picture of who George Soros is, regardless.”
Asked about Fareed’s past acceptance of a $5,400 donation from Randeep Grewal, the Hong Kong-based billionaire owner of oil and gas company Greka Energy, Stukins said Grewal isn’t a “convicted felon in France and known socialist” like Soros.
Carbajal campaign spokeswoman Tess Whittlesey wrote in an email the Fareed campaign’s emails are “a ‘simply disgusting’ attack that has no basis in reality.”
“I’m glad Mr. Fareed’s campaign retracted these claims, and I hope they stick to the facts moving forward,” Whittlesey wrote.