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2018 electionCalifornia in Congress

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher's Russia ties highlighted in new ads from Barbara Boxer's PAC

Another Democratic group is hitting Rep. Dana Rohrabacher hard on his connections to Russia, this time a political action committee run by former U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer.

The group, called PAC for a Change, released a digital ad Tuesday morning that features news clips detailing Rohrabacher’s long-held affection for and ties to the country accused of meddling in last year’s elections.

The ad, titled From Russia with Love, ends with Rohrabacher’s photo juxtaposed next to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s, a pink heart drawn around both. “Dana Rohrabacher: Putin’s guy, not ours,” a narrator says.

The 15-term Republican’s well-known affinity for Russia has earned him criticism and further scrutiny in recent days. On Monday, Rohrabacher confirmed he will testify before the House Select Intelligence Committee later this month about his meeting with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. WikiLeaks published emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee ahead of the 2016 election, and Rohrabacher said following the meeting that Assange had insisted Russia was not involved.

In October, Rep. Ed Royce of Fullerton, who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee, placed stricter limits on the subcommittee Rohrabacher heads over his Russia connections.

Boxer, who launched the PAC after she retired, says Rohrabacher’s recent actions are just another indication of how vulnerable he is in 2018. 

“People have looked at ‘the Russia thing’ as some obtuse thing happening with Trump. In the case of Rohrabacher … to me, it’s about not taking care of the district,” Boxer said in an interview. “There’s a lot of work to be done and it shouldn’t be work for Russia.”

The ad is scheduled to run on social media platforms and on websites, mostly targeted to voters in Rohrabacher’s district. PAC For A Change plans to spend less than $100,000 on this initial round of ads there, about as much as the group dropped on ads targeting Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista). Those ads received more than 844,000 completed video views and brought in more than 27,000 clicks on its website, according to Boxer.

With the congressman’s name coming up frequently in several ongoing Russia investigations, the DCCC and several of Rohrabacher’s opponents have also been highlighting the issue in ads this year.

Rohrabacher is one of 10 House Republicans the DCCC has identified as vulnerable in California, and the recent controversies have led some election prognosticators to rate his race a “toss-up.”

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