Candidates In 40th Dist. Senate Race Hurl Accusations

Mary Salas Accusing Juan Vargas Of A 'Dirty Campaign', Vargas Accusing Salas Of The Same

With elections only days away, the race for California senator in the 40th District is becoming nasty.

In the Democratic camp, Mary Salas has accused her opponent Juan Vargas of deceiving voters, but Vargas' camp is calling it bogus.

Consumer advocates said it is what voters do not see that matters.

While addressing friend and supporters at home, 40th District Senate candidate Mary Salas spoke of what she called her opponent's "dirty campaign."

"I never feared Juan Vargas," said Salas. "What I did fear was the $3 million campaign funded on his behalf by big oil, big tobacco and the insurance companies."

A consumer watchdog group called "Campaign for Consumer Rights" recently fried a complaint with the Fair Political Practices Commission, spelling out contribution violations in her opponent's campaign.

"All you have with Mr. Vargas are special interests, special interests, special interests," said Rep. Bob Filner of the 51st District.

What the watchdog group charges is that an organization called the California Senior Advocates League, which supposedly funneled tens of thousands of dollars into Vargas' campaign, is nothing more than a front for big oil and insurance companies.

Jim Anderson, Juan Vargas' campaign manager said the contributions are likely an "independent expenditure" which means the campaign would have no knowledge of these outside funding sources. He called this an attempt to discredit Vargas.

"This is a last minute political slideshow in a really Republican Karl Rove campaign tactic that Salas is using," said Anderson.

Anderson claimed Salas has no grounds to stand on, because she too received money from big corporate interests. He also said he never heard of the consumer agency or the complained and does not trust it.

"I'm not familiar with them. I've never heard of them," said Anderson. "In my mind, they don't have any credibility."

The complaint is under review by the Fair Political Practices Commission, but it is unlikely anything will happen before Election Day.