Just days after the slaying of 11 Jewish congregants at a Pittsburgh synagogue, a GOP candidate for a state Senate seat in Connecticut is accused of sending a mailer using an "age-old anti-Semitic trope." The ad sent out by Ed Charamut includes what the Washington Post calls a "money-grubbing" picture (here) of smiling opponent Matt Lesser, clutching $100 bills with a "crazed look in his eyes." Lesser says the original image of him was altered to add the cash and exaggerate his expression; Charamut's Jewish campaign treasurer concedes Lesser's eyes were tweaked "to look bigger and greedy," per Raw Story. Lesser's reaction when he first heard about the ad: It was "some sort of mistake or misunderstanding." "I did not believe them, because we live in America," he adds.
Others say the mailer was offensive, maybe intentionally so. But the 60-year-old GOP candidate insists the mailer was simply meant to draw a "sharp contrast" between his 35-year-old opponent's stance on tax policy and his own. "I reject hate speech in all its forms," he says. Other Republicans back him, with state Senate Chair JR Romano telling the Hartford Courant the hubbub is all "false outrage" perpetuated by Dems. "If you criticize any Democrat for failures and their record, they run into this shield that you're a racist." Romano later walked back those statements, agreeing the mailer was "offensive" after having "conversations with Jewish friends." (Mike Pence is facing his own controversy.)