Deceptive website sparks fury in 8th Congressional primary

Eighth Congressional District GOP hopeful Larry Kaifesh is calling foul on a deceptive website set up in his name by an Indian American SuperPAC supporting his rival in the March 18 primary, Manju Goel.

Kaifesh, 46, of Carpentersville, is calling on his opponent to put a stop to the attacks posted on the website, as well as on a related Facebook page and a recently suspended Twitter account.

But Goel, 48, of Aurora, says she has no relationship, contact with or influence over the SuperPAC Indian Americans For Freedom - though it was founded by one of her most visible supporters, Carol Stream businessman Shalli Kumar.

Though Goel lives outside the 8th District, the website set up by the SuperPAC calls Kaifesh the outsider because he lived in Virginia while working at the Pentagon.

The website also accuses Kaifesh of targeting ethnic minorities because he challenged signatures on Goel's nominating petition, which she overcame to stay on the ballot.

Kaifesh said his residency couldn't be more clearly defined. Illinois was always his home of record while he was serving overseas in the military and while posted at the Pentagon, he said.

As for the charge of targeting minorities, Kaifesh said he's treated all people equally throughout his life. He added that he hopes Goel's campaign and supporters will carry on their research and learn who his best friends have been.

Both Goel and Kumar said they were unaware of the website and had not seen it.

Kumar acknowledges he set up the SuperPAC in 2012 to support former 8th District Congressman Joe Walsh's re-election campaign but said he resigned from it in May 2013 and has no idea who his successor is.

The IAFF website names several individuals as officials but doesn't rank them by title or identify who runs the organization's day-to-day operations. IAFF's website doesn't list a phone number and attempts to reach the organization by email received no reply.

The website Kaifesh is objecting to does identify itself as being paid for by IAFF and "not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee."

Kaifesh said Goel and Kumar's denials highlight one of the traits he believes makes him the better candidate - credibility.

"This is (Kumar's) PAC," Kaifesh said. "He has acted as (Goel's) campaign manager since she announced her candidacy. It's very well known that he's completely tied to this PAC."

Because Goel and Kumar said they had not seen the website Kaifesh is complaining about, they said they also couldn't comment on the campaign tactics it employs.

Kaifesh said such tactics make a mockery of any serious discussion of the issues.

"It's obvious where this is coming from," he said. "It's the last thing we need in politics.

"I don't think it's going to be an issue," Kaifesh added when asked whether the website will hurt his candidacy. "Primary voters do their research. Right now there are thousands of people who are furious about what's going on."

Despite the website's claim about ethnic minorities, Kaifesh has been endorsed by the Indian American Republican Organization. Chairman Nimish Jani said his membership believes Kaifesh has the better chance of defeating Democratic incumbent Tammy Duckworth in the November general election.

The 8th District is roughly centered in Schaumburg and includes parts of Northwest Cook, central DuPage and eastern Kane counties.

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