The candidate for CA CD-47 appears to be running a campaign fueled by money her husband earned defending the Catholic Church from child sexual abuse lawsuits, according to a recent investigation.
A recent article by The Daily Beast has thrust Joanna Weiss, candidate for California’s 47th Congressional District, into the hot seat. The article notes that Weiss, who champions women's health and reproductive rights, “appears to be running a congressional campaign fueled by money her husband earned defending the Catholic Church from child sexual abuse lawsuits.”
Their investigation began with a look at Weiss’ publicly available financial disclosure report, which revealed that $225,000 of her campaign’s available $231,600 (equating to over 97%) was self-funded. It goes on to suggest that Weiss’ career—which has consisted of teaching, pro bono legal work, and the founding of a non-profit organization from which Weiss has never drawn a salary—is unlikely to have yielded these funds.
It would appear that the mere suggestion that a bulk of these funds could have come from her husband, Jason Weiss, who has on at least four occasions defended the Catholic Church in child sexual molestation lawsuits, has elicited wrath from the candidate and her allies.
“It’s 2024, and we are still comparing a female candidate to her husband’s career,” campaign manager Emma Weinert said in a statement to The Daily Beast. “These desperate attacks are shameless and misogynistic.”
Weiss released her own statement as well, but neither addressed the merits of the claim and instead defaulted to tired accusations of “sexism” and “misogyny.” This strategy, however, has rightly been met with skepticism. Legitimate questions regarding the transparency and integrity of campaign funding should not be dismissed on the grounds of gender bias.
The Issues page of Weiss’ campaign website states that “reproductive freedom is a women’s health, economic, and gender equity imperative,” and that “women’s rights require reproductive autonomy.” She condemns “MAGA extremists in Washington looking to ban abortion nationwide and reduce access to much-needed reproductive care.” It would, therefore, constitute a serious ethical dilemma if it is found to be true that her campaign is being sustained by funds that come, however indirectly, from the Catholic Church, given their ardent stance against abortion.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops clarifies the policy of Catechism of the Catholic Church— that “since the First Century, the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion,” and that “direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law.”
While both Joanna and Jason Weiss are allowed to disagree with the sociopolitical opinions of a client for whom they provide legal counsel, matters like this should be of interest to anyone who has endorsed or is considering endorsing a candidate in a hotly-contested federal race. And yet, EMILY’s List, who said in a public release that they “know that Weiss has the experience and fortitude necessary to fight back” against “GOP extremists in California and beyond [who] continue their cruel and relentless attack on reproductive health care,” stopped responding to The Daily Beast when they realized what the article was looking into. If such a claim turns out to be true, would they not want to be the first to know for the sake of their own credibility?
Furthermore, Weiss continues to attack Democrat opponent Dave Min for his own funding sources. One of her recent attack ads asserts that Min cannot be trusted due to him “accepting over $150,000 from special interests like Big Pharma.” In another instance, an Orange County Register article written last week titled Joanna Weiss Reminds Voters Why Dave Min Can’t Be Trusted, this same sentiment is echoed and Min is called “a corrupt puppet of the prison guard union, and frankly, whichever special interest group he finds useful to advancing his political ambitions.”
The battle for California’s 47th Congressional District will not be easily won. If Weiss hopes to emerge as the Democrats’ chosen candidate to replace Rep. Katie Porter (D) in this fiercely competitive race, she will need to eventually face the music and develop a more nuanced response to the allegations— one that does not deflect towards ad hominem attacks and allegations of sexism.