Paul Fong’s San Jose Council Campaign Plays the Race Card

For a serial officeholder, Paul Fong sure has issues running smooth campaigns. The state assemblyman who carpet-bagged his way from Cupertino to San Jose to run for a seat on the City Council first found trouble this year when San Jose Inside reported that he owed his former campaign manager/lobbyist Richie Ross $100,000 dating back to 2008. Fong made no efforts to pay off the debt during his six years in the state legislature but supported all of the bills Ross’ clients sponsored. Then in February, Fong violated campaign law by using a photo of him and a San Jose police officer in uniform for political ads. Now his campaign manager, Dennis Chiu, has injected race into the District 1 fight against Charles “Chappie” Jones by sending out an inflammatory email to supporters in response to a mildly critical mail piece. Before attacking the mail piece, Chiu goes after Jones’ campaign manager, Vic Ajlouny, calling him a “Palestinian activist, who served as a high-ranking member of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) in the 1990s.” He added that Ajlouny is known for his negative political attack. “This is all about making people think Chappie has a terrorist working for him,” Ajlouny told Fly. “It is racism at its worst.” San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed, who relies on Ajlouny’s political advice, as well as the local NAACP chapter, blasted Fong, calling his campaign’s comments “racist” and “xenophobic.” They also noted that just this summer Fong was calling for Fox News host Bob Beckel to resign over despicable comments about the Chinese. Chiu told Fly he wanted to apologize to Ajlouny, saying it was not his “intention to bring race into the campaign,” and, “I would never have assumed that he would take offense to the mention.” Chiu then asked for Ajlouny’s phone number so the two could talk. Ajlouny said their conversation, and Chiu’s explanation, has not resolved the matter.

UPDATE: Paul Fong's consultant firm Terris Barnes Walters sent out a press release Wednesday afternoon announcing the resignation of campaign manager Dennis Chiu. He will be replaced by Patrick Ahrens. Below is the full release.

“FONG CAMPAIGN STAFFING ANOUNCEMENT

Paul Fong made the following announcement: Today, in order to move forward, refocus on the issues truly affecting the residents of District 1, and to be sensitive to the concerns expressed over the last couple days by members of the Palestinian and other Middle Eastern communities, I accepted the resignation of my Campaign Manager, Dennis Chiu.”

Several members of the Palestinian community were offended by an email written by Chiu on Monday to Fong contributors that referenced Fong’s opponent’s political consultant, Vic Ajlouny, as being a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). According to news reports, Ajlouny had not been a member of the PLO, but had advised its chairman, Yasser Arafat. 

Chiu admitted making a mistake and apologized directly to Ajlouny and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) on the same day the email was released. Chiu also apologized to the larger community on television and in radio interviews on Tuesday.

Fong stated, “What Dennis did was wrong, and I’m taking this action to state that clearly. However, I have known him for almost 18 years. He has a long history of fighting against discrimination and for the civil rights of Asian Pacific Americans and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community. I do not believe that Dennis ever intentionally attempted to insert race in to the campaign.”

Chiu stated, “Having experienced discrimination as a gay Chinese American, I am profoundly and sincerely saddened that I caused hurt to another minority community.” Chiu pledged to proactively reach out to members of the communities that voiced anger and disappointment to learn, listen and become better informed, so he can grow from this incident. Fong also directed Chiu to enroll in sensitivity training. 

Fong announced that his current Field Director, Patrick Ahrens, is promoted to the position of Campaign Manager. Ahrens has previously worked on other campaigns, including Congresswoman Janice Hahn’s in Los Angeles.

The Fong campaign announced that the changes are effective immediately."

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18 Comments

  1. I’ve met Vic, he is about as Palestinian as Dave or I are Sicilian, which is to say, if you didn’t know our heritage, you’d have no idea WTF it is. The curse of being a caucasian/Mediterranean mix diluted by immigration to the USA I suppose. You’re always going to be called “White Devil”.

    Sigh.. Paul. I like you. We poke each other often on facebook. Don’t do this kind of stuff OK? I could go off on a nasty negative rant here, but as someone who thinks you’re an alright guy I’ll keep it in my pants so to speak.. Just make a public apology and move on.

  2. As a RESIDENT of District 1 it bothers me to NO END that Paul Fong is a LIAR! He and SPECIAL IINTERST (LABOR) have spread so much misinformation about Charles Jones that I didn’t know who Charles Jones was. I just took it for granted that I would vote in line with my Party but that all changed when I saw Mr.Fong show up at Forum. I was so disappointed, this guy cant speak publicly to save his life. Mr. Fong lacked passion, knowledge of our district and seemed disconnected. My community has reached out to Mr. Fong DIRECTLY, as well as through his campaign to have a meet and greet at our neighborhood association meeting but that has fallen on def ears. Mr. FONG’S BEST memory of west San Jose was volunteering for an assistant football coaching position, MORE THAN 10 YEARS AGO? As a long time resident of District 1, I ask all my fellow neighbors to DEMAND A DEBATE…..Not a FORUM but a TRADITIONAL BACK AND FOURTH DEBATE. You will see that FONG doesn’t want that to happen because Mr. Jones is a nice guy, a nice guy that has SOLUTIONS to our DISTRICT and CITIES PROBOEMS. Also Mr.Jones has lived in a neighboring neighborhood for 15 plus years. I had the opportunity to meet Mr.Jones and I must say he has definitely got my vote. I ask you fellow District 1 neighbors to do the same. REMEMBER, if FONG is voted into Council we will be left with his mess and he will simply just move back to Cupertino.

    • Out of curiosity, since you are a resident of District 1 and are very astute at identifying LIARs, what about your current Councilmember the “Honorable” Pete Constant.

      Among his many claims to fame is calling in sick to work (and missing council duties) aledging he was recovering back surgery only to be caught in Miami at a national political convention!

    • Hi Darren: There is a D1 debate in the works planned for October at Lynbrook High School! To keep informed on events such as these which are dutifully posted once details are confirmed, please visit the District 1 Leadership Group on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/D1LeadershipGroup or on the website: http://www.d1leadershipgroup.com/

      FYI – We also have a debate for the (2) Mayoral candidates tomorrow morning at Mitty High School (off Lawrence). Doors open at 9:30 and debate begins at 10:00 am and will be approximately 1 hour long. This flyer is posted on the D1LG FB page and the website.

  3. I am completely outraged by Mr. Chiu’s assertions about Vic! Dennis Chiu and Paul Fong should be ashamed! I think the comments that Chiu made to hurt Charles “Chappie” Jones campaign manager, Vic, and his campaign are the lowest form of dirty campaigning yet.

    I think this type of outright racism is despicable, shows a complete lack of sensitivity, and speaks volumes about Fong himself ! VOTE NO ON FONG, and YES on Charles “Chappie” Jones!

  4. Moving from a 3400sf 5/3 in the Cupertino Foothills to a 900sf 2/1.5 behind the old Lincoln Mercury dealership on Stevens Creek barely 12 months ago seems a little extreme. Is anyone checking to see where he sleeps at night? How truly invested is Paul Fong in the best interests of San Jose and District 1?

  5. It is both interesting and telling that no one , not even Ajlouny himself denies his associations with the PLO and Yasser Arafat. What does The Fly quote him as saying? “This is all about making people think Chappie has a terrorist working for him…”

    Ajlouny’s ties to Arafat and the PLO have been brought up many times – never once has Ajouny distanced himself from his connections. At the very least, Ajlouny was/is an apologist for a group of people who ARE responsible for the deaths of many people by means of terrorism.

    Anyone with a computer can research the matter and decide for themselves whether or not the allegations have merit. I recommend search terms like: Vic Ajouny, Victor Ajlouny, Victor A. Ajlouny…. Arab American Congress, PLO…”

    Take note court cases where Ajlouny has been involved in as both a defendant and plaintiff and what those cases are about. You can disregard the one from his HOME in NEBRASKA where the type of shingles on his roof are the subject. Check some of the news articles … there is a Merc piece that is still available after all these years…

    Don’t take Fong’s word or my word or the Fly’s lack of research on the matter… find out for yourselves who Ajlouny really is…. then ask yourself why someone with his documented background is such a hero to people like Chuck Reed…

  6. I have personally known Chappie for close to 5 years as a fellow neighborhood leader in District 1. He is the real deal and sincerely passionate about District 1. He has served District 1 residents as a neighborhood leader for the Murdock neighborhood and has served as one of our representatives on the SJ Neighborhoods Commission among other voluntary roles. He also has a corporate background having worked at Apple for many years. He is NOT a career politician, just someone who wants to step up and make a difference in SJ! He quit his job at Apple to focus entirely on his campaign and funded his initial campaign with a sizeable sum from….his personal savings (what a concept)! He is the clear choice for anyone who wants our collective voice to be heard at City Hall and not be puppeted by special interests.

    I fiercely supported Susan Marsland in the primary but at the end of the day I am interested in having a LOCAL leader in this role who lives amongst us, knows us, and cares about THIS community. The only person in the current race that meets those criteria, is Chappie hands down!

  7. So Paul Fong replaces his legislative aide/campaign manager Dennis Chiu with another legislative aide as campaign manager? Did he miss the Mike Honda article today, or can he not find another person willing to manage this campaign?

  8. http://www.leagle.com/decision/1988761686FSupp75_1746.xml/MENDELSOHN%20v.%20MEESE

    (“Victor A. Ajlouny (“Ajlouny”) asserts that he has been requested by the Palestine Red Crescent Society, a constituent group of the PLO, to undertake a series of speaking engagements in the United States with funds provided the Palestine Red Crescent Society. He asserts that he is unable to do so unless his travel expenses are paid in advance.”)

    http://www.mercurynews.com/news/ci_11595588

    (“Deeply entrenched in Palestinian politics, Ajlouny got a big break in 1992 when a high-ranking member of the Palestine Liberation Organization asked him to serve as an American adviser to Yasser Arafat. Ajlouny wrote news releases and organized media events for the late Palestinian leader, which boosted his profile internationally.”)

    http://www.wrmea.org/1990-april/a-congressman-s-new-realism-and-a-senate-s-old-cliches.html

    (“Of eight changes recommended by Ajlouny and Saleh, six were adopted. These included deleting references to Israel as the “sole democracy in the Middle East” and “the democratic state of” Israel. “We were trying to develop a resolution that talked about the first step for a just and lasting peace,” Ajlouny explained.”)

    http://articles.latimes.com/1988-11-30/news/mn-663_1_arab-group

    (“It is our strongest feeling that a university is a place of academic freedom and a forum which allows for the open exchange of opposing views,” Victor Ajlouny of the Arab group wrote. He called Shultz’s decision to deny U.S. entry to the Palestine Liberation Organization leader “an affront to these basic principles.”)

    http://www.leagle.com/decision/19882169695FSupp1474_11964.xml/MENDELSOHN%20v.%20MEESE

    (The ATA prohibits, with the purpose of furthering the interests of the PLO: (1) receiving “anything of value except informational material from the PLO;” (2) expending funds from the PLO; and (3) establishing or maintaining “an office, headquarters, premises, or other facilities or establishments within the jurisdiction of the United States at the behest or direction of, or with funds provided by” the PLO. 22 U.S.C. § 5202.
    There are four plaintiffs who have alleged, with supporting affidavits, that they wish to undertake certain activities but have not yet done so for fear of prosecution under the ATA.
    Ibrahim Abu-Lughod, a United States citizen, is Chairman of the Political Science Department at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. He asserts that he as been asked to attend various meetings throughout the United States to explain the position and views of the PLO on the current situation in the Middle East but is unable to do so unless his travel expenses
    [695 F.Supp. 1477]
    are reimbursed by the PLO. Victor A. Ajlouny, also a United States citizen, similarly declares that the Palestine Red Crescent Society, a constituent group of the PLO, has requested that he undertake a series of speaking engagements in the United States with its funds. He, too, declares he is unable to do so unless his travel expenses are paid. Lughod and Ajlouny therefore present the same claim— that the ATA impermissibly forecloses their right to solicit and receive funds from the PLO in order to facilitate the exchange of views and information.”)

    http://digitalcommons.law.umaryland.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1410&context=mjil

    • Thank you… So Ajlouny was (at the very least) willing to accept money from the PLO which was well known as a terrorist group to promote its “position” in the USA. What was the PLO’s “position” back when Ajlouny want to shill for them? Something like creation of a Palestinian State coupled with the elimination of the State of Israel by any means …

  9. I think that this was indeed misfortunate, however we all know that sometimes campaign actions occur without direct approval from the candidate themselves. I find it very hard to believe that Paul Fong (even Dennis) truly feel or meant what came out.

    The fact of the matter is that EVERY campaign in the South Bay these days is accused of racism. I would like us to focus less on ethnocentric politics and work for those issues we fight for every day.

    • I’d like to see Mr. Fong represent the city he actually resides in and that good sir is not San Jose.

      It’s absolutely ridiculous that this machine-bought career politician is trying to move into our city. Are Cindy “Boss Tweed” Chavez and Ben “Disgraced Attorney” Field that desperate?

  10. “Chappie” Jones’ campaign manager supports a free & independent Palestinian state? I’d just say that’s all the more reason to vote for Jones…