Jeff Burdick

Jeff Burdick, a Democratic candidate for California’s 7th Congressional District election, on Jan. 8 filed state and federal complaints against incumbent U.S. Rep. Ami Bera, D-Elk Grove.

Burdick is one of four candidates challenging Bera in the March 3 primary election. The other challengers are Republican Robert “Buzz” Patterson and Jon Ivy, and Green Party candidate Robert Christian “Chris” Richardson.

In his complaints to the U.S. House Ethics Committee and the California secretary of state, Burdick claims that Bera has committed fraudulent and unethical campaign marketing that serves to mislead District 7 voters.

Burdick said that he filed his complaint in response to a portion of the home page of Bera’s campaign website, BeraForCongress.com.

On that page is a section called “Latest news from the desk of Dr. Bera.” The section includes a portion of a press release that announces that The Sacramento Bee’s editorial board endorsed Bera in the Congressional District 7 primary election.

The announcement does not apply to the current race; it instead refers to Bera’s endorsement in the 2018 primary election.

Those who click on the link to the press release are brought to a separate page that shows the entire press release and the date, May 1, 2018.

Burdick last week told the Citizen why he and his campaign are concerned about this portion of the congressman’s campaign website.

“The thing that was most concerning to us was voters being misled,” he said. “Improving ethics of our campaigns, as well as making our election system more responsive and accountable to voters are big issues for me.”

In a recent press release from the Burdick campaign, Burdick refers to the congressman as serving as his own “Russian bot.” The nickname is based on the claims that Russians used the Internet to manipulate American voters during the 2016 presidential election year.

“For three years, Democrats in Congress have been fighting to combat the false and deceptive online election practices of Russian bots,” he wrote. “How disappointing to see Dr. Bera now serving as his own Russian bot to deceive his constituents this way.”

Burdick added that he believes that Bera’s campaign is aware of the alleged deceptive nature of having the 2018 endorsement on its site’s homepage.

“This is clearly not accidental,” Burdick wrote. “Bera spends an average of $10,000 a month on web and digital services, and has a paid campaign staff to boot who should be quite familiar with their campaign home page.”

Burdick told the Citizen that Bera, “as a representative of voters,” is being irresponsible in having his 2018 endorsement remain on the home page of his campaign website.

“It is not responsible for that misinformation to remain up there, especially since it is to his advantage,” he said. “If you’re an elected official or running for office, (take) seriously the need to properly inform voters and not mislead them ever as much as possible.

“So, whether this website has been up for a longtime or a short time, the same principle applies. For an experienced politician to run a multimillion-dollar campaign, to leave this up for even as long as we’ve known it, it’s not a good look.”

Bera did not respond to the Citizen’s request for comment by deadline.