Republican congressional candidate Ben Quayle has issued a stinging rebuke to rival Vernon Parker for his statement that Quayle “rented a family” in campaign mailers that depict him with two young girls.
Quayle called Parker a “flawed” candidate and took a shot of his own in a press statement, dredging up a 2008 U.S. Small Business Administration investigation that alleged Parker falsified documents to obtain a $1.2 million federal government contract for his consulting business.
“This one for Mr. Parker was something that has been in the paper and it’s all public knowledge, and yet we haven’t heard one thing about it during this campaign, and I think the voters are owed that,” Quayle told the Arizona Capitol Times Aug. 6.
The SBA suspended Parker’s consulting firm from receiving government contracts in a program known as 8(a), which is geared toward small businesses owned and operated by economically and socially disadvantaged people.
Parker filed suit against the feds July 2, seeking $2 million in damages over what he claims was a malicious and partisan investigation over a contract his consulting firm got to conduct training for the SBA.
“It’s really sad and that’s one of the reasons quite frankly why I chose to run for Congress because when your own federal government instead of your protector becomes the aggressor and goes after you for politically motivated things, it just makes my blood boil,” he said. “It’s awful.”
The war of words between the candidates started after the Arizona Capitol Times published a blog piece about a Quayle campaign mailer that showed the 33-year-old lawyer with two toddler-aged girls and the text below that read, in part, “Tiffany (his wife) and I live in this district and we are going to raise our family here.”
The blog said it’s reasonable that a voter scanning such mailers could assume Quayle was attempting to portray himself as a “family man” with what appeared to be his daughters in a playful scene. Quayle is recently married and has no kids.
The campaign initially said the girls were daughters of a campaign staffer who were photographed at a campaign event. A day later, it changed its story to say that the girls are Quayle’s nieces.
National media jumped on the piece – mostly before the campaign corrected its misinformation – and slammed Quayle for what many said was a misleading image.
Parker also issued a statement denouncing Quayle for “renting a family” to score political points. And Quayle shot back, saying Parker attacked him for merely appearing in an ad with his nieces, and blasted Parker for the SBA sanction. Quayle said if Parker wins the primary election he would be a “national poster boy” for the Democratic Party, paving the way for a Democrat, presumably Jon Hulburd, to win the general election.
That’s when things got dirty.
Parker spokesman Jason Rose issued a press release saying Quayle called Parker “boy,” a racially charged word against African Americans.
“To have the 33-year-old son of one of the wealthiest families in America refer to a leading Republican African American as ‘boy’ is over the top,” Rose said.
The only thing “over the top” is Rose issuing that statement.
“It’s absolutely ridiculous. ‘Poster boy’ has absolutely no racial content to it. It was just to say that if elected in the primary then he would be somebody who was emblematic of bad ethical behavior,” Quayle said.
For his part, Parker said he wanted to move on from the “poster boy” issue, but did tell the Capitol Times that “where I grew up, you don’t refer to grown men as boys.”
Parker, who served in both Bush administrations, grew up poor in a Long Beach, Calif. neighborhood surrounded by drugs and violence.
“It was the totality of where that statement came from because it was obvious he was trying to insinuate that I was relying on minority contracts, and let’s call him a ‘poster boy,’ too,’” Parker said.
Parker described the phrase as “unfortunate” and said he hopes that next week debate can be a “healthy one.”
Let’s hope so.
- Bill Bertolino