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Congressman Jerry Lewis

Phony e-mail portrays congressman as 'birther'

E-mail purports to be invitation Thursday night town hall meeting

STAFF WRITER

Congressman Jerry Lewis will be participating in a "town hall" meeting discussing healthcare reform Thursday night at the University of Redlands. But a mass e-mailing purportedly from the congressman, inviting Republicans in the 41st district to attend the meeting, is fake.

"The e-mail is entirely bogus," said Jim Specht, Lewis' communications director, on Wednesday. "First of all, the congressman would never limit attendance at any of these functions. ... Although obviously, there are limits to how many people can fit into the room.

"The organizers," the Redlands-Yucaipa Tea Party group, "have unequivocally denounced the e-mail as well," Specht said. "Their attitude is the more people who come, the better."

And then there are the other claims in the e-mail sent out on Tuesday, each of which hits a hot-button issue.

"I am trying to host a Republican only 'town hall' summit on health care for my Republican fans only," the e-mail reads in part. "Do you think Obamacare will kill seniors? Do you think there are no problems with your healthcare? Do you think to bad [sic] if you are uninsured? Do you think that birthers are right? If you answered Yes! Then I want you to come!"

The e-mail was allegedly sent out from the commercial site congress.com, not mail.house.gov, Lewis' actual e-mail host. (Actual origins of e-mails are easily faked, or "spoofed.") The congressman has asked the Capitol Police to investigate.

"He feels very angry about this e-mail and feels this is exactly the wrong kind of way to attempt to influence the debate on healthcare," said Specht, who called sending out the e-mail a "despicable act." "He feels that we need to focus on finding a reform so that as many Americans as possible can be covered by healthcare."

Lewis also disagrees with the "birthers," according to Specht, who allege that President Barack Obama was actually born in Kenya, not Hawaii, and is thus ineligible to be president.

"He believes the president is a citizen of the United States and that issue was settled long ago," Specht said. "He has never said any of those things once."

The 41st congressional district includes Hesperia, Victorville, Barstow, Yucaipa, Redlands and Highland.

The meeting will be held at 7 p.m., August 13, at the Orton Center at the University of Redlands. More information is available at the Yucaipa-Redlands Tea Party group's Web site: www.redlandsteaparty.com.

Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 956-7108 or at beau@hesperiastar.com.


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