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Imperial Valley newspaper catches heat for political cartoon

July 12, 2010 | 10:35 am

The Imperial Valley Press is being criticized by some readers who believe a political cartoon mocked the injuries of a decorated Iraq war veteran who is running for Congress.

The cartoon, published Saturday, shows a poster of candidate Nick Popaditch, who has a patch over his right eye. Two youths with skateboards seem perplexed by the poster

"What does that remind you of?" one says.

The other answers: "A James Bond super villain? A bald pirate? Uncle Fester with an eye patch."

Popaditch, a Marine gunnery sergeant, lost the sight in his right eye during the battle for Fallouja in Iraq in 2004. He received the Silver Star and Purple Heart and now is the Republican candidate in the 51st Congressional District, facing Democratic incumbent Bob Filner.

Among those criticizing the cartoon is Cheryl Perez, president of the Ladies Auxiliary, Military Order of the Purple Heart, unit 49, San Diego.

"I realize Nick is running for a political office and political cartoons are the norm," Perez wrote. "Attack him on his political views, not on injuries he sustained while fighting for other people's freedom and liberties. ... This is not just an insult to Nick, but an affront to every Purple Heart recipient."

Editor Brad Jennings, an Air Force veteran whose son is serving in the Air Force, said he has apologized to Popaditch and plans an apology and explanation in his column to be published Tuesday.

"Our intent was never to besmirch the service of a veteran, never to personally attack Mr. Popaditch," he said. "To me, the cartoon was meant as a comment on our locally ill-informed voters."

-- Tony Perry in San Diego