Elections

Democrats deploying Donald Trump as weapon against Rep. Jeff Denham and House GOP

aalfaro@modbee.com

Democrats are turning to Donald Trump as they try to topple Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Turlock, from his San Joaquin Valley congressional perch.

In a newly unveiled 30-second ad, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee characterize Denham as “Trump’s man in Washington.” The ad cites, in particular, the Trump Organization’s leasing of the Old Post Office on Pennsylvania Avenue and its conversion to the Trump International Hotel Washington, D.C.

“When Trump wanted to turn a taxpayer-owned building into an $800 a night hotel, Denham helped broker the deal, and bragged about it,” the ad states.

DCCC spokesperson Barb Solish said the ad is being run on “broadcast, cable and satellite TV,” and reflects the fact that Democrats “are all in in this district.” The theme of the DCCC ad is echoed in English and Spanish-language ads put up by Denham’s Democratic opponent, Michael Eggman.

The ads do not explain the complete story.

Denham formerly chaired the House subcommittee that oversees federal buildings, taking on a responsibility similar to one he had in the state Legislature. In February 2011, he convened a subcommittee hearing in an empty annex of the Old Post Office to call attention to the widespread problem of vacant or under-utilized public facilities.

The federal government owns 45,190 "underutilized" buildings that cost $1.6 billion annually to operate, according to testimony presented at the 2011 hearing. Denham has authored legislation designed to help the government shed the surplus.

The Obama administration’s Dan Tagherlini, then-acting administrator of the General Services Administration, praised the 60-year Trump lease in 2013, as one that will “save millions of taxpayer dollars while restoring a unique and important historic asset."

The hotel’s website showed prices for some rooms as low as $460 a night for some nights later this month; the hotel also offers the Capitol Suite for $4,262 a night.

Michael Doyle: 202-383-6153, @MichaelDoyle10

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