Republican chair asks voters to check out allegations
By Elsa Maxey
One of the runoff elections for the Sugar Land City Council has triggered interest with an anonymous flyer about Farha Ahmed. It was mailed to local residents living in what is the city’s District 4. Ahmed is the candidate for the position in that district running against Harish Jajoo, and she is being linked to the Al-Qaida terrorist organization.
“Very recently, I have been asked a number of times – ‘Do you represent Aafia Siddiqui?’ The answer is NO!” is Ahmed’s response to an association with a woman nicknamed “Lady Al Qaeda,” reportedly sentenced to 86 years in a New York District Court for attempting to shoot U.S. soldiers about three years ago at a police station in Afghanistan. Currently, there are two Texas attorneys named Farha Ahmed.
Ahmed, the candidate running for city council locally, said that she’s not a criminal defense lawyer nor is she licensed to practice in any other state except Texas, not even in federal court.
At this point, whether she is or not linked to the terrorist organization has been refuted with character references and other information, and the assertions of an anonymous author have been condemned, especially by prominent local leaders.
“It is unfortunate that some individual(s) have used the election campaign to bring up issues unrelated to the qualifications needed to serve on City Council,” said Mayor James Thompson, who also referred to the city’s Anti-Defamation League’s recognition of Sugar Land as a Community of Respect in the past four years, in addition to other state and national awards presented to the city for its diversity.
Fort Bend County Clerk Dianne Wilson, who referred to the mailing as cowardly said. “I’ve been county clerk for 29 years, and this kind of stuff doesn’t come along very often and when it does, it’s irritating. It’s bad enough when people send out half-truths, but when they totally make up stories I decide it’s time to stand up.”
Steve Brown, Chairman of the Fort Bend Democratic Party chairman’s “No Room for Hate in Fort Bend Elections” statement said he’s concerned that candidates with Muslim or Asian backgrounds may be discouraged from running for public office due to this incident. “I ask all leaders to join me in advocating for a more civil election.”
Noting that it is not his practice to endorse candidates in other elections, especially non-partisan municipal elections, on Monday, Fort Bend County Judge Bob Hebert said he felt “an obligation to come to (the) defense of my very good friend Farha Ahmed, who has been wrongfully slandered by an anonymous political piece that attempts to link her to Al-Qaida in the United States.” Judge Hebert also said, “The ‘mailer’ that went out slandering her is an example of what is absolutely the worst of our great democracy and I urge voters to judge the candidates on their qualifications and not on this type of libelous slander.”
Is there more to this?
GOP Chairman Rick Miller told the “Star” on Monday that voters should look into allegations before they make their own decisions about how to vote. He said the claims about Ahmed’s ties to a terrorist group are not new and that emails have been exchanged on the topic since she announced her bid for office.
So what does he think? He said the information on the flyer, “which is available at the website, referenced on it as well as on the ACT for America Houston website, is something that I have looked at and would encourage everyone to review to make their own decision.”
Could one think that Miller, himself, could have sent the flyer? He said, “no” and has no idea who is responsible. He also said he does not condone negative campaigning. Miller confirmed Ahmed had previously served as legal counsel for the Fort Bend GOP, but resigned along with the entire leadership prior to his taking on the chairman’s role in 2008. He told the “Star”, that both he and Ahmed live in the same precinct.
On Friday, Jajoo, Ahmed’s political opponent in the council race, released a statement to the media. “I want to assure you that my campaign had nothing to do with this mailer, and I do not condone this type of tactic. I also believe that the voters deserve to hear from my opponent on this issue as well.”
Ahmed repeats what she has said before about her contacts in the Bush State Department and helping human rights groups with information to find two missing American children believed to have been kidnapped overseas.
She does not believe that the smear campaign will stop by those whom she says have a hidden agenda. “They will continue to ask questions unrelated to the platform I am running on or the city issues we care about.”
This runoff election this Saturday, June 11, is a non-partisan race between two Republican candidates.
To view the mailer, visit Fort Bend Star’s website.