GOP congressional candidate accuses Democrats of racismPosted: Updated:
PHOENIX -- Republican congressional candidate Vernon Parker said he was "disgusted" and "heartbroken" over a Democratic attack ad that he's calling racially offensive.
Parker, who is black, called on the Arizona Democratic Party and his opponent, former state Sen. Krysten Sinema, to renounce the ads immediately.
But that doesn't appear likely as officials with the party and Sinema's campaign said Parker's claims are outrageous and accused him of playing political games.
The controversy flared up over the weekend after the state Democratic Party mailed a flyer to voters in Arizona's 9th Congressional District.
The mailer slams Parker over his healthcare and tax plans and describes him as having, "questionable ethics." It also features a photograph of Parker that he says is racially insensitive.
"When I first saw it, I was disgusted, I mean I was heartbroken," Parker told 3TV on Tuesday. "To see someone take a photograph of me and make it ten shades darker and make my teeth ten shades whiter and my eyes ten shades whiter, truly disgusts me."
Besides the Democratic Party, Parker said he's also holding Sinema accountable. With no hard evidence, Parker claimed her campaign approved the flyer before it was sent to voters.
Officials with Sinema's campaign said that they had nothing to do with it.
This is not the first time Parker has alleged racism during a campaign. It was two years ago when he called out Ben Qualye during a hard-fought GOP primary.
In a press release, Quayle said Parker would, "become the national poster boy for the Democratic Party if elected." At the time, Parker said he was offended by the use of the word "boy" to describe him.
Regardless, officials with the Democratic Party said they didn't do anything wrong and that they're not apologizing.
"The picture came from his Facebook page, the picture is such a small part of the mailer that if Mr. Parker is offended then he's offended," said Frank Camacho, the communications director for the Arizona Democratic Party.
The picture did come from Parker's Facebook page, but was changed from full-color to a black and white.
Camacho said he was unaware of changes to the image before the flyer was printed. He then said Parker is trying to score political points during the last month of the election.
"He's trying to deflect attention away from the issues and trying to spotlight it on what is really an inconsequential matter," Camacho said.