Schiff claims challenger a non-voter

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) alleged Monday that his Republican challenger in the Nov. 2 election did not vote during a period of more than 25 years.

Campaign aides for Schiff, the five-term congressman representing the 29th District, said first-time candidate John Colbert, 45, failed to vote in any election from the time he was 18 until 2008, when he was considering a run for public office.

"I think voters have a right to know that a candidate for Congress hasn't participated in the process until 2008," said Parke Skelton, a campaign consultant for Schiff.

Schiff campaign officials cited the Los Angeles County registrar of voters as the source for the information. A spokeswoman for the department said it may take days to confirm the allegation.

Colbert is an Altadena resident and former Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputy who became an executive in the mid-1990s at Guidance Software, a computer forensics firm. He has said he was motivated to run because of recent laws that he believes hurt the economy, including healthcare reform.

He has received support from members of the Pasadena Patriots, part of the national "tea party" movement.

Colbert on Monday did not directly address the allegation, but a statement from his campaign office called Schiff's announcement a political attack meant to deflect attention from election issues.

"One would think that after four years in the state Senate and 10 years in Congress, Schiff would want to talk about his record and what he has accomplished for his constituents," Colbert's campaign director, Alek Bohigian, said in a statement. "But with local unemployment now more than twice what it was when he was first elected to Congress, and a record national debt made possible by his votes, it's not surprising that he wants to talk about his opponent instead.

He added: "If Schiff feels that by serving in the U.S. Army and being a deputy sheriff here in Los Angeles Colbert somehow was not a responsible and engaged citizen, Schiff should just come out and say it."

It was the first overtly offensive play from Schiff's campaign in what has so far been a comparatively quiet race.

Skelton said the Schiff campaign has known about Colbert's voting record for some time, but with the election nearing, decided to release the information now.

"The election is getting close and people are tuning in," Skelton said.

Schiff is running in a heavily Democratic district with substantially more campaign money than Colbert, making a victory by Colbert a tall order.

Colbert's campaign has raised $533,000 through Sept. 30, according to the Federal Election Commission, but he has recently started raising his profile through television advertisements.

Schiff has raised more than $1.1 million since Jan. 1, according to federal records, and has more than $1.8 million in campaign cash on hand.

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