ARVADA – A day after a New Jersey gay couple filed a federal lawsuit over the group that used their engagement photo in a Colorado campaign mailer earlier this year, a Korean immigrant is upset that his image appears in a recent campaign commercial that seeks to paint his former boss as someone who has outsourced American jobs.
Eun Cha, 72, who took a job at the Coors brewery in 1977 after immigrating from South Korea and is now the president of CoorsTek Asia, is shown in a campaign ad from Congressman Ed Perlmutter alleging that Joe Coors, his Republican challenger, oversaw the outsourcing of American jobs to Asia.
In an interview Thursday with FOX31 Denver following the first debate of the race in Colorado’s Seventh Congressional District, Coors defined Cha as an “American citizen, resident in Westminster, paying taxes to the United States.
Cha “being politicized the way he is by my opponent’s campaign, is just sickening,” Coors told FOX31 Denver.
Cha’s son turned down a FOX31 Denver request for an interview; but the Coors campaign points to a letter on the CoorsTek website in which Cha describes how the Coors company allowed him to live the American Dream.
“It’s perplexing as to why Congressman Perlmutter would disparage a hard-working American citizen like Mr. Eun Cha and use his face as the image of outsourcing,” Coors’ spokeswoman, Michelle Yi, wrote in an email to FOX31 Denver.
“As his story goes to show, Mr. Cha’s willingness to work hard in this country led to tremendous success and personifies the American Dream. As an elected official, Congressman Perlmutter should be better than this and needs to explain to voters as to why he would denigrate an American Citizen and run an ad so insensitive, simply in an effort to score political points.”
But Perlmutter isn’t backing down.
“Key to the recovery of our country is that we make things in America,” Perlmutter told FOX31 Denver following the debate Thursday morning at the Arvada Center for the Arts.
“CoorsTek has sent jobs to South Korea and also down to Mexico. And they’re jobs we ought to have right here in our country.”
The photo used in Perlmutter’s ad shows Cha and two other men at a 2007 announcement of the opening of the CoorsTek plant in Korea.
Perlmutter points to a 2002 CoorsTek Quarterly Earnings report that states: “our facility in Korea provides strategic foothold for servicing the growing Asian market and also allows us to manufacture low-cost product in Asia for our U.S. customers.”
“If they have a plant in South Korea that’s serving Asian customers, I understand that,” Perlmutter said. “But this was to produce products for the United States at a lower cost. We need those jobs in our country.”
But Coors notes that he retired as CEO of CoorsTek, a high-tech ceramics firm, in 2000.
“To do an ad or get a clip for something that happened years after I was gone doesn’t seem sincere and is flat out deceitful,” Coors said.
Perlmutter’s campaign isn’t about to accept that explanation.
“Setting up a plant and transferring jobs and operations to another facility in another country takes significant time,” Perlmutter’s spokeswoman, Leslie Oliver, told FOX31 Denver Thursday.
“And as CEO and Chairman, Joe was the architect of those plans.”