In what has proven to be the nastiest local race in this year's election, Democratic congressional candidate Mike Farber on Wednesday filed a counter-lawsuit against his Republican rival, Rep. Robert K. Dornan of Garden Grove, contending a new Dornan campaign mailer is defamatory.
Farber's lawsuit comes a week after the incumbent and his wife, Sallie, filed a libel suit against Farber, which alleged that the Democrat maliciously distributed false information about the Dornans.
The Dornans' suit referred to a Farber campaign mailer, which used excerpts from court records in which Sallie Dornan accused her husband of abuse. Sallie Dornan has since recanted those charges.
The lawsuit against Dornan was prompted by a mailer sent this week to voters in the 46th Congressional District.
The mailer contains a letter signed by Democrat Robert J. Banuelos, who lost to Dornan two years ago and then lost this year's Democratic primary to Farber. Banuelos, who recently endorsed Dornan, signed the letter attacking Farber.
In the letter, Banuelos calls Farber an "unethical liar seeking personal gain." It also states that local Democratic Party leaders supported Farber because they wanted "anyone but an American of Hispanic heritage" to run against Dornan.
Farber's lawsuit alleges, "This statement implies through innuendo that Mike Farber is anti-Hispanic. The statement is untrue. . . . (It) ignores the fact that there were three other non-Hispanic candidates in the Democratic primary."
Banuelos, arguing that Farber moved to the district for political gain, also contended in the letter that Farber's wife, Gail, works in San Diego and that the couple has a home in Oceanside. The Farber lawsuit states that these assertions are untrue.
"The letter was defamatory and exposed (the Farbers) to contempt, ridicule and obloquy, and impugned their reputation among the residents of the 46th Congressional District," the lawsuit states.
Sallie Dornan, who is running her husband's reelection campaign, called the Farber lawsuit "stupid." She said she trusts Banuelos' word, even though they were once political rivals.
"He's very, very family oriented. He adores his parents. I have his word, and I believe him," she said.
Meanwhile, Farber has refused Dornan's challenge to debate him one last time before Tuesday's election because of a scheduling conflict. The debate--requested by Dornan but sponsored by United We Stand--will be held tonight at the Walnut Manor, 891 Walnut Manor Road, in Anaheim, between Dornan and Libertarian candidate Richard G. Newhouse.