WASHINGTON — In a bizarre campaign move, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) has called on supporters to help him “shut down” not the Democratic opponent he helped inspire to run against him, but Rosie O’Donnell.
It’s the comedian and actress — an outspoken critic — who Chaffetz apparently sees as the biggest threat to his future in Congress.
“HELP ME SHUT DOWN ROSIE O’DONNELL,” reads an online campaign advertisement, which the Republican posted to Facebook on Sunday. “Rosie O’Donnell just maxed out to my Democrat opponent and is tweeting to all of her liberal followers to do the same. Because I’m not afraid to stand up to my opponents and speak the truth, I’ve become a target of the Democrats. They are tired of my no-nonsense attitude and are going to pour millions into Utah to see me defeated.”
“I need your help to fight back,” the website says. “Wil [sic] you sign your name to show Rosie we aren’t going to let her silence our conservative voice and defeat us?”
Earlier this month, Chaffetz said that if low-income Americans are unable to afford coverage under the GOP’s proposed health care law, perhaps they should make better financial decisions such as not buying iPhones. That comment resulted in an explosive groundswell of support and funding for Kathryn Allen, a Democrat and family physician from Cottonwood Heights, Utah.
In just two days, Allen raised about $200,000 in her campaign to unseat the GOP congressman in 2018, moving from an unlikely opponent to a viable contender. And her coffers have continued to swell. As of Monday, nearly $500,000 had been donated to her Crowdpac fundraising page, with more than 13,000 individual donations.
O’Donnell was among Allen’s early supporters. On March 8, the former television talk-show host and longtime nemesis of President Donald Trump donated $2,700, the maximum allowed, and urged Allen to “go get him.”
O’Donnell on Sunday blasted Chaffetz’s call for support on Twitter.
Much like his iPhone comment two weeks ago, the call to shut down O’Donnell appears to have only helped Chaffetz’s opponent. In the comments below Chaffetz’s post, several said the congressman had, in fact, alerted them to Allen’s campaign page, and that they planned to make a donation.
In an email to The Huffington Post on Monday, Allen called Chaffetz’s post “the gift that goes on giving.”
“I guess he thinks he is running against Rosie instead of me,” she said.
Neither O’Donnell nor Chaffetz’s office immediately responded to HuffPost’s request for comment Monday.
Allen previously told HuffPost that after the Nov. 8 election, she felt “demoralized” and “angry.” She was able to channel that anger toward politics, focusing initially on ending gerrymandering in her home state. The “pivot point,” she said, came during Chaffetz’s Feb. 9 town hall event in Cottonwood Heights, where angry constituents booed and scolded the chairman of the House oversight committee, chanting, “Do your job!” Chaffetz drew more fire when he dismissed that angry crowd as paid, out-of-state protesters.
“I felt this call that maybe I needed to challenge him,” Allen said. Or, as the family physician wrote on her fundraising page, deliver the congressman some “strong medicine.”