Congressman Ami Bera and Sheriff Scott Jones squared off in their only debate over the hotly contested 7th Congressional District in KVIE studios in Natomas on Tuesday, three weeks before election day.
The moderators held no punches, asking Jones about recent allegations surrounding a 26-year-old deputy who claimed 30 inappropriate encounters occurred from 2003 to 2005 while she worked in the county jail’s law library.
“Well yeah she is lying,” Jones said. “These allegations first came to light in any form about a year ago, for conduct allegedly occurring about 13 years ago. I went under oath and denied the allegations in the strongest terms possible.”
Bera said that no woman should ever have to face this type of harassment, and that Jones’ actions were unacceptable.
“It’s pretty disturbing,” Bera said. “We don’t have to guess what happened, this came out in a lawsuit. A jury didn’t believe you, they didn’t believe your leadership, and they ruled against you. It’s pretty shocking, I don’t believe you.”
Bera then had his turn under fire as he was asked whether or not he had any knowledge of the illegal contributions his father made in previous election cycles.
Bera’s father pleaded guilty to campaign fraud in May and was sentenced to a year in federal prison in Aug.
“Look my father made a mistake and he shouldn’t have done this,” Bera said. He’s not a criminal but he broke the law.”
“When I first heard about it I was shocked,” Bera said. That’s why we fully cooperated with the U.S. attorney. You know, if my dad actually just reached out and said something to the campaign or even me we would have said ‘dad, you can’t do this.’”
Jones said that, especially in light of who is being let out of prison, Bera’s father should not be going to prison over his actions but that he does think Bera knew about his father’s actions.
“Usually the person who commits the crime, receives the benefit of the crime,” Jones said. “And here, the person who committed the crime is going to prison and the only person to receive the benefit, was Congressman Bera by getting elected to two terms.”
The debate was sponsored in part by Los Rios Community College District and Folsom Lake College.
The deadline to register to vote in California is Oct. 24 and election day is Nov. 8.