CONCORD, Calif. - A series of vitriolic, anti-Semitic robocalls have been making the rounds in the Bay Area this week on behalf of a businessman in Concord running for Congress to represent swaths of the East Bay.
The call was received on Tuesday by the Investigative Unit's Tip Line at KTVU, two editors at the East Bay Express in Oakland, the wife of the congressional candidate running in Concord and countless others.
The anonymous male caller claims Jews are taking over the world. The call was made on behalf of John Fitzgerald, a small business owner, who is running as the Republican candidate against Democratic U.S. Rep. Mark DeSaulnier who represents Contra Costa County. Oakland is not in his district. Fitzgerald also ran in 2010 and 2012 but as a Democrat against then-Congressman George Miller, and lost.
"End the Jewish takeover of America and restore our Democracy by voting for John Fitzgerald for U.S. Congress." The caller talks about the "2 percent of Jews who have dominance over America" and blames the Jews for the attack on 9/11.
The ad was paid for by TheRoadtoPower.com, the call says, whose main personality, Scott Rhodes of Sandpoint, Idaho, has been linked to racist calls targeting U.S. Sen. Diane Feinstein. Rhodes could not be reached for comment.
Mary Mazzocoo, a journalism adviser at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, also described the call as highly offensive. "Half of my husband’s family were refugees from Hitler’s Germany, so it was both upsetting and infuriating to get a phone call praising a candidate as someone who would be tough on the Jews," she said.
Fitzgerald vehemently denied being behind the calls, including the one his wife received Tuesday night. He received 23 percent of the vote to finish second in the 11th Congressional District’s June primary.
“I want to make this absolutely clear,” Fitzgerald wrote in an email to KTVU. “I have NO affiliation to Road To Power nor any of his/their affiliates, organizations or otherwise, and nor will I ever in the future. I also had NO idea that any robocalls were being made mentioning me or my campaign by his/their organization nor would I ever have authorized him/them nor anybody else do so without my consent or approval. I also DO NOT adhere to the vulgarity and racist principles that he/they promote via his/their website, podcasts, etc. I also have NO idea who funded the robocalls and believe he/they did so strictly in the hope of damaging my reputation and campaign. I am saddened and angered knowing that many people received these calls, some as early as 6:30 a.m. it appears from blogs/comments I have read.”
Fitzgerald added: “I am an ethical, principled and caring person who cares about all people and I believe in being honest about important although controversial or taboo subject matter and issues, and I do so with integrity, civility, decency and decorum and I ask others do the same no matter our ideological or political differences.”
But even if he is not behind the phone calls, Fitzgerald's website is full of headlines that attack Jews and people of color.
Prominently displayed on his website are headlines that read: “Why are powerful Jews pushing mass-immigration and forced-multiculturalism throughout the U.S. and Europe?” and “Four Jewish owned mega corporations control the vast majority of all advertising agencies.”
Last week, Fitzgerald is heard saying on a podcast hosted by Andrew Carrington Hitchcock, an anti-Semitic commentator who has glorified Hitler: “Everything we’ve been told about the Holocaust is a lie.” Fitzgerald says during the interview, inviting people on his website to listen.
Fitzgerald emailed KTVU saying that he would not do a phone or television interview because he wrote his words would be twisted or edited.
But he also refused to describe himself as an anti-Semite.
In an email, he wrote: "I find it interesting that you believe that simply questioning U.S. policies: foreign-policy, the PNAC Doctrine, etc., regarding Israel or speaking to or questioning issues regarding Israel or historical events such as the holocaust (sic) makes me or anybody else an anti-Semite. I guess you believe Israel right or wrong, huh?"
Media Matters, a liberal nonprofit publication, first drew attention this week to Fitzgerald’s controversial podcast appearances.
After initially endorsing him in March, the California Republican Party and the Republican Jewish Coalition reversed course in May.
“The California Republican Party’s Board of Directors took swift and decisive action to eliminate any support for John Fitzgerald due to anti-Semitic comments he made recently,” California Republican Party Chairman Jim Brulte said in a statement. “Those views have no home in the Republican Party. As always, California Republicans reject anti-Semitism, and all forms of religious bigotry, in the harshest terms possible. We reject John Fitzgerald’s campaign and encourage all voters to do the same.”
As for the Contra Costa County Republican Committee, chairman Matt Shupe, who is Jewish, said they never endorsed Fitzgerald in the first place. " He never attended any of our events," Shupe said. "We never even considered him."
As for the robocall? "It's disgusting and vile," Shupe said. "This type of rhetoric should be condemned by everybody."