Candidates of 45th district react to impeachment

The President released details of a phone call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky after the whistleblower complaint mentioned a possible overreach of power from the Oval Office. WikiCommons

President Donald Trump’s week has been embroiled with chaos: a whistleblower’s allegations released Sept. 23 have become center stage in a formal impeachment inquiry, reports by The New York Times have disclosed that the White House classified sensitive phone conversations between Trump and foreign leaders and House Democrats have issued their first subpoena, all while members of Congress have scrambled to pick a side.

The Panther spoke to multiple candidates running for the House of Representatives in the 45th district this week to get each Congress-hopeful’s thoughts on the matter. Republican candidates Greg Raths, Peggy Huang and Don Sedgwick conducted phone interviews: Republican candidate and dean of the School of Communication Lisa Sparks provided an email statement.

At time of publication, 55 House representatives haven’t responded to whether they are for or against the impeachment inquiry against President Trump. With the 2020 campaign in full swing, some politicians and candidates are trying not to “jump to conclusions.”

Each candidate’s answers have been lightly edited for clarity and stylistic standards.

Lisa Sparks is the dean of Chapman’s School of Communication, serves on the Orange County Board of Education and is a Republican candidate for California’s 45th district. Sparks responded to The Panther’s interview inquiry with a Sept. 26 email statement.

“The people of the 45th district clearly want a member of Congress who is focused on doing the job they were elected to do and not focused on impeachment proceedings. They want strong leadership and representation that will create jobs, lower taxes, lower prescription drug prices, and make healthcare more accessible and affordable.”

Sparks did not respond to requests to elaborate on her statement.

Greg Raths is the mayor of Mission Viejo, a Marine Corps veteran and is a Republican candidate for California’s 45th district. Raths spoke to The Panther in a phone interview Sept. 25.

Q: What are your thoughts on the impeachment inquiry?
A: I served as the Chief of Staff for the White House Military Office during the Clinton years, so I’ve had a firsthand account of impeachment; I was there when President Clinton was impeached. I think Republicans overstepped then and really split the country up and put a wound in the country that hasn’t healed. I do think there is a constant battering of President (Trump) and impeachment takes away and divides the country so much. It is corrosive to the country and I don’t think this is wise. I don’t see two-thirds of the senate turning on the President.

Q: Do you believe that Trump’s engagement with the president of Ukraine compromised our national security?
A: No, he did not compromise our national security. (The President) has to have flexibility to talk to foreign leaders. Those are private conversations. When the President talks to a world leader, he hopes that it remains private. People don’t like Trump, they’ll go after any nibble of information. I don’t believe he should work with other governments to go after other candidates, but that is grey area right now.

Peggy Huang is a representative on the Yorba Linda City Council, the Transportation Corridor Agencies and is a Republican candidate for California’s 45th district. Huang spoke to The Panther in a phone interview Sept. 25.

Q: What are your thoughts on the impeachment inquiry?
A: Things like this are more politically driven than anything else and cause distractions. American people end up bearing the clutch. No one is going to be happy. What it does is it distracts from what has to be done. Right now we have some very serious issues that we need to deal with.

Q: Do you believe that President Trump violated the Constitution?
A: I can’t tell from the piece of information that has been released.

Q: If elected into office, how would you view and react to impeachment proceedings?
A: It’s a huge jump. What I see is a political motivation. It’s too haste and not enough understanding and unfortunately it destroys the credibility of those behind the impeachment because they jump to conclusions and it becomes politically motivated. I would ignore it and say to my colleagues, ‘You don’t have anything right now and could not run with hearsay statement.’ If you have a complaint investigated and trust in the process, but don’t jump to conclusions based on hearsay and that we lose credibility as elected officials.

Don Sedgwick is the mayor of Laguna Hills, was on the Saddleback Valley Unified School District Board for 18 years and is a Republican candidate for California’s 45th district. Sedgwick spoke to The Panther in a phone interview Sept. 25.

Q: What are your thoughts on the impeachment inquiry?
A: It’s not worth shutting down the government by going into impeachment proceedings when they should be doing things like improving health care, securing the border, illegal immigration, issues that really matter. Instead, they are going down this path like they have been doing with every issue, like with Russia, trying to change the American vote on the President. We want our Congress to work on behalf of Americans to get things done that matter. And if they have a problem with the President, they have the opportunity to vote in just a year’s time.

Q: Do you believe that President Trump violated the Constitution?
A: If you look at the history of other attempts, such as the Russian collusion, I think it is premature. If determined later on that there is evidence for impeachment than of course.

Katie Porter is the Democratic Congresswoman representing California’s 45th district in Congress. She responded to questions from The Panther in a Sept. 26 email.

Q: Do you believe that President Trump violated the Constitution?
A: As I said in June, the President’s actions have raised deep concerns about whether he is upholding the Constitution. An impeachment investigation will give Congress the tools to subpoena witnesses and documents, and share the evidence provided with the American people. I do not presuppose the outcome of the investigation, but want to hear all the relevant testimony and review all the relevant documents before potentially taking a vote on whether to send articles of impeachment to the Senate.

Q: Do you believe there was an overreach of power from the Oval Office? Do you believe that Trump’s engagement with the president of Ukraine compromised our national security? If so, why?
A: The allegations against the President – both those outlined in Special Counsel Mueller’s report and by the intelligence community whistleblower – warrant an investigation by the House of Representatives. We need to see the relevant documents, hear from witnesses, and receive the testimony from the whistleblower. Once that information is made available to the public, I will review it and be transparent with our constituents about what decision is appropriate. But as I said in June, all of the information currently available calls into question our national security and election security.

Q: Do you believe the whistleblower account was necessary in order to motivate Speaker Pelosi to pursue a formal impeachment inquiry?
A: I came to the conclusion that an impeachment investigation was necessary in June, after reading Special Counsel Mueller’s report, which documented instances of potential obstruction of justice. The account by a whistleblower, alleging that the President withheld military aid in exchange for support in the 2020 election, was another crucial piece of evidence brought forward to support the need for an impeachment investigation. The complaint was determined by the Intelligence Community Inspector General, an individual nominated by President Trump, to be a matter of urgent ‘concern’ and ‘credible.’

Rep. Lou Correa on impeachment inquiry

Lou Correa is a Democratic Congressman representing California’s 46th district in Congress. He spoke to The Panther in a phone interview Sept. 26.

“I am a patriot and I love this country. It breaks my heart to see us so divided. This impeachment inquiry is going to cause even more division. I am a big Nancy Pelosi fan and she has done a fantastic job with managing what she has done in Congress. And with this president, I am not trying to be partisan, but my god every time you turn around he does something that makes you think “Are you kidding me?”

“If I am on the phone calling Mexico and saying ‘help me on this,’ I am going to jail. When I was in Sacramento, they taught ‘You never talk about something of value and a political favor and policy in the same breath.’ You just don’t,” Correa said.

“Mr. President, I know that you are a political novice, but this is basic stuff. We’re living in very challenging times. Beyond the fact that I represent my district, I also am very much an individual that wants the very best for this country. We have to move forward.”

Read The Panther’s profile on Correa here.