Cook County Republican Chairman Aaron Del Mar on Tuesday called for 8th District congressional candidate Manju Goel to withdraw from the March 18 primary contest because of a deceptive website, Facebook page and Twitter account set up by a SuperPAC to discredit opponent Larry Kaifesh.
The website and its related social media accounts, though paid for by the SuperPAC Indian Americans For Freedom, purports at first glance to belong to Kaifesh. But it questions his reasons for living in Virginia while working at the Pentagon and suggests he's not fully committed to the 8th District.
"This is one of the great examples of why good people don't want to get involved with politics," Del Mar said. "What we are trying to do within the party is keep things as clean as possible and to the issues."
As she did last week, Goel, 48, of Aurora, denied any connection to or influence over the SuperPAC working to support her campaign.
"Why are people linking me to that when I've said I had nothing to do with that?" Goel said Tuesday. "I have no idea who they are, where they are or who's running them, so how can I comment on what they're doing?"
Del Mar said he asked Goel last week to call for the deceptive website's removal within 24 hours. If she had, he would likely have reserved any comment in the race -- as he has in the gubernatorial primary.
"I don't believe her," Del Mar said. "I believe this is a completely egregious act."
Goel said she has no intention of withdrawing from the race. All of her energy is going into continuing her campaign during these final two weeks, she added.
Goel also claimed her race -- Indian-American -- has been used against her in the primary. She says she believes her race was the basis for an unsuccessful effort to remove her from the ballot, as well as Del Mar's questioning her about her position on affirmative action when she spoke to Palatine Township Republicans.
Del Mar noted that he's of Filipino descent -- an Asian-American just like Goel -- and that there's been no racism in the primary from him or anyone else. The question he said he asked Goel was about her position on Title IX, which involves the equal opportunity for women in education and college athletics.
"No one's attacked her," Del Mar said. "Everyone's been very welcoming. My issue is she's being dishonest."
Del Mar said his request that Goel withdraw is not based on any desire to see an uncontested primary.
"How are you going to have a robust debate about the issues if you don't have an opponent?" Del Mar said.
The SuperPAC was set up by Carol Stream businessman Shalli Kumar in 2012 to support then 8th District congressman Joe Walsh in his unsuccessful re-election bid against Democrat Tammy Duckworth. Kumar is now one of Goel's most visible supporters, though he says he resigned from the SuperPAC last May and has no further contact with it.
Kaifesh, 46, of Carpentersville, said the phony website has made an issue of his residency in Virginia while working at the Pentagon. While Illinois has always been his home of record, his membership in the Marine Corps has required five overseas deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan since 9/11 as well as a position at the Pentagon.
Goel, who lives outside the 8th District, said that while the military service of both Kaifesh and Duckworth is commendable, neither of them ought to be guaranteed a seat in Congress because of it.
The 8th District is roughly centered in Schaumburg and includes parts of Northwest Cook, central DuPage and eastern Kane counties.