FULLERTON — Jay Chen, the Democratic candidate in the 39th Congressional District, is reporting that he has been the target of anti-Asian emails and phone calls as the campaign enters the home stretch.
Chen, who has been elected twice to the Hacienda-La Puente School Board and serves as an intelligence officer with the U.S. Navy Reserve, is running against the Republican incumbent, Ed Royce. The district includes Brea, Buena Park, Chino Hills, Diamond Bar, Fullerton, Hacienda Heights, La Habra, La Habra Heights, Placentia, Rowland Heights, Walnut, and Yorba Linda.
One email, quoted by OC Weekly, read, “F— off, chink. I’d never vote for a slant-eyed gook. Asians are trying to take over our country, so why would I want to vote for a slope. F— off and die. I hope you get cancer of the eyes and testicles.”
Curiously, the writer — disbarred Costa Mesa attorney Anthony Kassas — signed his name and closed with “Please excuse any typos.”
Recordings of two calls from a man identifying himself as Jerry Joyce were released by Chen’s campaign. In the first message, he said, “You’re just a lyin’, sneakin’ Asian thief. That’s all you are. I wouldn’t vote for you if you were the last person in the world … Get your Chinese ass out of here.”
The second message was more ominous: “Skinny little Chinese f—er. If I receive one more goddamned thing at my home about you, you little shit. You’re a piece of crap. Royce is ten times the man you are … You little bastard. Next time I see you I think I’m gonna put my fist down your f—in’ throat.”
Sam Liu, Chen’s campaign manager, said the latter message was reported to law enforcement in Fullerton and Rowland Heights because it contained a threat of violence.
“They basically went through the entire dictionary of slurs and used every single one,” Chen told KTLA-TV. “It’s incredible that these types of mindsets are still out there … These folks who are saying such hurtful and hateful things represent a small minority, but they’re out there. We have to understand that there’s still this kind of mentality out there, and that should motivate more people to come out and vote and get involved in the political process.”
Chen’s campaign also released photos of signs reading “Vote for the American” in La Habra Heights on Encanada Drive and “Is Mr. Jay Chen a closet commie?” in Fullerton on Euclid at Valencia.
In addition, signs have been ripped off the outside of Chen’s campaign headquarters, although it was unclear if the motivation was racial.
Chen, who was born in Michigan to immigrants from Taiwan, commented, “After Ed Royce began playing the ‘China card,’ our campaign got hit with racist slurs and attacks. Pure desperation from a Tea Party member who can only run on hate and fear.”
One of Royce’s mailers is directed at America Shining, a PAC that has funded ads attacking Royce and supporting Chen. It states, “An invest banker from Shanghai and Hong Kong is behind the America Shining Super PAC. San Gabriel Valley Tribune reports that the ‘FEC lists Shaw Chen, an investment manager, as giving $565,000 to the PAC’ and that Jay Chen admits the money came from Shaw Chen, who he said was ‘currently an investment manager in Hong Kong.’”
An illustration shows bags of money traveling from Shanghai and Hong Kong to the U.S. A photo of Jay Chen wearing dark glasses is included.
Liu responded, “Royce’s latest mailer … claims Jay’s support comes from China, when he knows full well that (Jay’s) brother Shaw is an American citizen and has every right to contribute to a PAC per Citizens United.”
Royce has accused the PAC of working in coordination with Chen’s campaign and called for an investigation. The campaign called the claim “baseless.”
“Royce has a pretty bad history with multiculturalism, and his keynote speaking role at an anti-Muslim protest rally drew strong rebukes,” Liu added. “In his speech he said multiculturalism was paralyzing our society … It is very disturbing that he is taking his attacks on multiculturalism even further by playing the China card in this race.”
According to KTLA, the Royce campaign released a statement Monday denying any connection to the hate speech and suggesting these reported incidents may be a ploy to discredit the incumbent.
In his defense, Royce has pointed out his endorsements by Chinese American and other Asian American elected officials, including Diamond Bar Mayor Ling Ling Chang, Walnut Mayor Mary Su, Rosemead Mayor Steven Ly, Placentia Mayor Jeremy Yamaguchi and Orange County Supervisor Janet Nguyen.
As a school board member, Chen was attacked last year for approving a Mandarin language program called Confucius Classroom, subsidized by the Chinese government. An unsuccessful attempt was launched to recall Chen and fellow board members Norman Hsu, Joseph Chang and Anita Perez. Former Superintendent John Kramer called the program “a propaganda machine from the People’s Republic of China that has no place anywhere in the United States.”
Chen said at the time, “A lot of people are saying it’s a way for the Chinese people to brainwash our students. They are really misinformed. From Oregon to Rhode Island, public schools have implemented the same program. As far as I can see, nothing sinister is going on.”