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Excluded congressional candidate files complaint with IRS

February 8, 2012 |  5:29 pm

Reps. Howard Berman, left, and Brad Sherman
A Republican candidate excluded from a Jewish Journal forum has filed a complaint with the IRS alleging that the nonprofit publication is improperly engaging in political advocacy.

An attorney for  writer Susan Shelley, one of two Republicans in the widely watched clash between Democratic Reps. Howard Berman and Brad Sherman for a San Fernando Valley congressional district seat, alleged that the newspaper was opposing Shelley. As a  tax-exempt, nonprofit organization, the newspaper is not allowed to take positions for or against political candidates.

Rob Eshman, the Jewish Journal's publisher and editor in chief, said the publication has not taken sides in political races in its 25 years as a nonprofit organization and he strongly disagreed with Shelley's characterization that it is doing so now.  

Eshman said Shelley and another announced candidate, Democrat Vincent Gilmore, a gardener, were not included in the publication's upcoming forum because they failed to meet several criteria.

The criteria, aimed at judging the viability of a campaign, include raising money to spend on what is expected  to become one of the costliest races in House history, having a campaign organization and having enough name recognition to show up in polls, among others.

Neither Shelley nor Gilmore met the criteria, although Berman, Sherman and Mark Reed, a Republican businessman/actor did, Eshman said, and were invited to participate in the Feb. 21 forum at Temple Judea in Tarzana.

"We have limited resources and people have limited time," Eshman said.  "You want to include people who have a shot... You can't [have a viable campaign] with  just a website.  It really does cost money."

Shelley said she wasn't persuaded by the viability argument.

"I think it's a transparently partisan attempt to hide a Jewish, socially moderate Republican candidate from Jewish voters who are known to be unhappy with the Democrats' record on the economy and the president's policies on Israel," Shelley said.

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-- Jean Merl

Photo: Reps. Howard Berman, left, and Brad Sherman square off at a Jan. 5 candidates forum; candidates Susan Shelley and Mark Reed are partially shown behind them.

Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times

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