WASHINGTON – An aide to GOP presidential candidate Sam Brownback has been reprimanded for sending e-mail to Iowa Republican leaders in an apparent attempt to draw unfavorable scrutiny to rival Mitt Romney's Mormonism.
Emma Nemecek, the southeastern Iowa field director for Brownback's presidential campaign and a former state representative candidate, violated campaign policy when she forwarded the June 6 e-mail from an interest group raising the questions, the Brownback campaign said Sunday.
The e-mail requested help in fact-checking a series of statements about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
Among the statements: "Theologically, the only thing Christianity and the LDS church has in common is the name of Jesus Christ, and the LDS Jesus is not the same Jesus of the Christian faith" and "The LDS church has never been accepted by the Christian Council of Churches."
"Sen. Brownback completely disavows himself of this and any personal attacks on religion," said Brian Hart, a spokesman for the Kansas senator. Hart said the campaign apologized to Romney, a former governor of Massachusetts, once they learned of the e-mail.
"It was not originated by Ms. Nemecek and the purpose was to fact-check. But it was in violation of campaign policy and it won't happen again," he said.
The controversy comes as Brownback and Romney are scrambling to attract socially conservative voters in advance of Iowa's Jan. 14, 2008, caucuses.
Both candidates say they are ardently anti-abortion, although Brownback — a former Methodist who has become an evangelical Roman Catholic — has criticized Romney for supporting abortion rights as recently as two and a half years ago.
A spokesman for Romney's Iowa campaign, Tim Albrecht, said the campaign accepted Brownback's apology but called the incident "unfortunate."
"It's unfortunate that these attacks of religious bigotry were taking place," Albrecht said. "Sen. Brownback has apologized and we are glad he has worked to minimize these repugnant attacks in his campaign. There is just no place for these types of attacks in America today."