The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee promptly deleted a tweet on Thursday attacking a Republican congressman's "cult-like fixation on marijuana" after a Los Angeles Times op-ed scolded the DCCC for launching its attack when Democrats "broadly support marijuana legalization."
The DCCC on Monday targeted Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R.), who has served in the House of Representatives since 1989, in his reelection bid in California's 48th congressional district against Democrat Harley Rouda.
"#CA48 GOP Rep. Dana Rohrabacher hasn't passed a bill in 14 years and has a 'cult-like fixation on marijuana and his unwavering defense of Vladimir Putin,'" the DCCC tweeted from its official account.
Three days later, Tom Angell, a reporter and editor for the news site Marijuana Moment, penned an op-ed in the Times in which he castigated the DCCC, the campaign arm of House Democrats, for targeting Rohrabacher over his stance supporting cannabis reform.
"Why is the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee—the entity charged with winning back control of the U.S. House—attacking a Republican congressman over his support for marijuana reform?" Angell asked. "Surely the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee isn't trying to send the message to voters that President Trump, who announced his support last month for cannabis legislation filed by [Sen. Cory] Gardner (R., Colo.) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.), is more progressive on marijuana than a leading Democratic political organization?"
"Democratic leaders need to take a look in the mirror and recognize that their own members broadly support marijuana legalization," Angell wrote. "And then they need to look at the polls and realize that attacking Republicans for supporting cannabis reform is a great way to remain the minority party."
Angell said there are many issues for which the DCCC could have attacked Rohrabacher, including climate change and health care. He added, however, that cannabis reform is not one of those issues, writing that Rohrabacher has played a leadership role in fighting back against the "federal government's outdated and harmful marijuana prohibition policies."
After his piece was published, Angell noted on Twitter that the DCCC took down its tweet attacking Rohrabacher.
"HUGE: After I called out @dccc in an LA Times oped for its stupid anti-marijuana attack on GOP @RepRohrabacher, they've now deleted the tweet. Screenshot below, though..." Angell tweeted, including a screenshot of the DCCC's now-deleted tweet.
Angell followed up with another tweet warning politicians about "tweet[ing] politically dumb anti-marijuana garbage" and said they better believe he will screenshot their tweets and call them out.
The DCCC has come under scrutiny from both progressives and more centrist Democrats during the 2018 election cycle for meddling in Democratic primaries across the country and choosing establishment Democrats for its "Red to Blue" program. The organization has also come under fire for pressuring progressive candidates to drop out of highly contested races.
In particular, the DCCC targeted Texas Democratic congressional candidate Laura Moser by publishing opposition research against her on its website. While the DCCC received backlash from members of the media and Democratic activists, including former Obama administration staffers, the group stood by its strategy. That strategy backfired in March, however, when Moser qualified for a May 22 primary runoff.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.), who caucuses with Democrats in the Senate, called out Democrats in May for being "wrong" to warn against nominating candidates who they consider too progressive.
Rohrabacher responded on Twitter to the DCCC's attack.
"Rouda/Pelosi allies scramble 2 delete false attack on my record, as they struggle to sell their big gov/high tax agenda #ca48," he tweeted.
Rouda/Pelosi allies scramble 2 delete false attack on my record, as they struggle to sell their big gov/high tax agenda #ca48
— Dana Rohrabacher (@DanaRohrabacher) July 12, 2018
UPDATED: Post was updated to include Congressman Rohrabacher's response.