By Seema Mehta
GOP gubernatorial candidate Tim Donnelly launched a blistering attack accusing Republican rival Neel Kashkari of associating with fundamentalist Islamic law.
"BREAKING: Neel Kashkari supported the United States submitting to the Islamic, Shariah banking code in 2008 when he ran" the taxpayer-funded federal bank bailout, a Donnelly campaign associate wrote on the candidate's Facebook page Monday. "Shariah is 'the seditious religious-political-legal code authoritative Islam seeks to impose worldwide under a global theocracy.' This revelation is spreading fast, as people ... refer to Mr. Kashkari's support of Shariah an 'October Surprise.'"
Sharia law is an Islam-based code that governs personal and business behavior. Many global business interests deal with its banking laws, which forbid the charging of interest. But its criminal code is controversial, prompting protests on Monday by celebrities and others at the Beverly Hills Hotel over its owner, the sultan of Brunei's, imposition of the law and its treatment of gay people and others in Brunei.
As the head of the bank bailout under President George W. Bush, Kashkari in 2008 delivered welcoming remarks at a conference about "Islamic Finance 101." An article pointing to the event as evidence of the government "submitting" to Islamic law and written by an author who draws ire from many mainstream Republicans is posted as proof of Kashkari's connection with Sharia law on Donnelly's Facebook page.
Donnelly stood by his remarks late Monday.
"Given the recent stories and protests about the outrage of the discriminatory nature of Sharia law, we're horrified that Kashkari would support Sharia anything," he said.
Kashkari is Hindu and of Indian descent.
Attempts to reach him were unsuccessful. But a senior advisor compared Donnelly to Todd Akin, the unsuccessful 2012 GOP Senate candidate in Missouri who said women who were the victims of "legitimate rape" rarely became pregnant.
"Neel is focused on his own campaign and educating voters about who Tim Donnelly really is, which is underscored today," said advisor Aaron McLear. "It's yet another reminder that he is our very own Todd Akin, and will similarly destroy the Republican Party in California."
Harmeet Dhillon, vice chair of the state Republican Party, called the Donnelly post an attempt "to trade on bigotry, racism, hatred of the other, hysteria."
Dhillon, who because of her position cannot endorse either candidate, added that she had seen Democrats mount similar attacks to those being launched on Kashkari, a former investment banker at Goldman Sachs.
"There is an element of ignorance to it," she said. "If you were a white banker at Goldman Sachs, nobody would be making an issue out of this."
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