DENVER – U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Lakewood) was likely hoping to tap into voter worries about outsourcing when he unveiled an ad this week claiming that his Republican challenger, former CoorsTek CEO Joe Coors, shipped American jobs overseas. But the tactic may have backfired on the embattled three-term lawmaker, who is now facing allegations that the controversial ad amounts to race baiting.
“As CEO of CoorsTek, [Joe] Coors outsourced manufacturing jobs to Asia,” Perlmutter says in a voiceover, as a shot of two Asian businessmen standing in front of a large sign printed in Korean script flashes on the screen.
One of those businessmen is Eun Cha, a naturalized U.S. citizen, veteran, and father of two.
“My ‘American Dream’ started during my two tours of duty in Vietnam,” Cha wrote. “In the fall of 1976, I took the first step as a Korean-American immigrant and moved our family to Westminster, Colorado.”
Cha described struggling to find work during the economic malaise of the 1970’s before landing a job as a general brewery worker for Coors.
“[The brewery] provided me with the opportunity to better my English and participate in the management-training program,” said Cha. “Through this, I was able to reach my second American Dream milestone – U.S. Citizenship in 1982.”
Cha went on to talk about the opportunities that his job with the company afforded to his two children, both of whom graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and one of whom now works for CoorsTek.
“I was also able to invest in the education of my children,” said Cha.
Cha also countered Perlmutter’s questionable claim that CoorsTek’s expansion in Korea somehow moved U.S. jobs overseas.
“CoorsTek acquired a local Korean company to provide for the needs of CoorsTek customers that had Asian operations, provide for a gateway of further US exports into Korea, and to create more jobs in the U.S.” Chu explained.
The Coors campaign was quick to slam Perlmutter for demonizing Mr. Cha.
“It’s perplexing as to why Congressman Perlmutter would disparage a hard-working American citize n like Mr. Eun Cha and use his face as the image of outsourcing,” Coors’ spokeswoman Michelle Yi told Fox31 Denver.
T.Q. Houlton, a spokesman for the free-market advocacy group Compass Colorado, was similarly critical of Perlmutter’s decision to air the divisive ad.
“This type of xenophobia has no place in our political discourse. Extreme Ed Perlmutter should pull this desperate and misleading TV ad down immediately and personally apologize to Mr. Cha and Joe Coors for his racist ad,” said Houlton.
Speaking to Fox31 Denver on Thursday, Perlmutter stood by the controversial spot.
“Key to the recovery of our country is that we make things in America,” Perlmutter said.
Perlmutter drew criticism this summer for appearing on Face the Nation to campaign for stricter gun controls in the immediate aftermath of the tragic Aurora theater shootings.
He came under fire again for politicizing the shootings just days later, when the Democrat cited the slayings as a justification for his vote in favor of ObamaCare during an online forum.