The Powers campaign is trying to make an issue of who Chris Lee (the Republican candidate for the 26th District) sold his company to. The D&C:
The company Lee helped manage and his father founded was sold for $395 million less than a year after the buyer, an international conglomerate, pleaded guilty to two felony charges related to sensitive defense technology that had been sent to China, Britain, Singapore and Japan. The conglomerate, ITT, also paid $100 million in fines.
The Lee campaign maintains that International Motion Control, an engineering and technology company founded by Patrick Lee, was sold to a division of ITT that was separate from ITT's defense operations, which incurred the charges and fines.
"As a combat veteran, Jon Powers is deeply troubled by anyone who profited from a company that gave our national security secrets to the Chinese," said John Gerken, Powers' campaign manager. (via Rochester Turning)
It seems a stretch to knock a guy for legally selling his company. It doesn't seem like the sort of thing that will resonate with voters, and what Powers is doing is reminding people that Lee is an experienced, successful business man -- something that Powers, for all his great military experience -- doesn't have in his portfolio. While that doesn't disqualify Powers for office, why draw attention to it?
It also seems to be a political misstep for Powers to raise this issue now, before he's even won the primary. By the time the general election rolls around, this will be a stale story that most media won't cover. (Though, a lot of times campaigns get these stories planted in the press so they have a clip to include in a hit piece mailer. The timing, then, doesn't matter.)
I don't know much about International Motion Control, but if it were the case that IMC dealt in defense-related technology that could maybe make its way into Chinese hands via ITT, then Mr. Lee's judgment and fitness for office could be legitimately questioned. But merely profiting from the sale? That's a stretch.
There isn't much on the web now about IMC, but I did find this press release about the sale. The list of products appears pretty non-threatening. However, it is interesting that Mr. Lee outsourced some manufacturing to Asian countries. That could be a liability for him in this district, but it seems Jack Davis has the stronger track record to make that case.
Chris Lee's campaign site. Jon Powers campaign site.