U.S. Senate candidate Joe Heck’s campaign wasted no time in clarifying the Nevada congressman’s claims about Muslims that he had made during his visit to Pahrump a few weeks ago.
According to the audio from the May 28 town hall in Pahrump that was obtained by BuzzFeed News, Heck claimed Muslims have tried to implement Sharia law in Michigan.
In response to a comment from an audience member that a high number of Muslims in the U.S. support Sharia law, Heck said, “Depending on where, there are certain pockets throughout the country, like, certainly up in Michigan, is a high area, where there are areas where they have tried to implement their version of Sharia law in the United States.”
The comment appears to reference a 2013 fake news story on a satirical website National Report, stating that Dearborn, Michigan became the first U.S. city to implement Sharia law.
Brian Baluta, Heck’s spokesman, said the GOP candidate made no reference to a specific claim.
“He did not refer to the debunked claim about Dearborn city council voting to implement Sharia,” Baluta said in an email. “His reference was to the community implementing themselves, their version, consistent with their customs.”
The news story came out less than a week after Heck claimed a victory at the June 14 primary, becoming a Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate. His main opponent, former Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto’s campaign pounced on his quote following the BuzzFeed report.
Cortez Masto spokesman Zach Hudson released the following statement about BuzzFeed news reporting:
“Congressman Heck has gone from supporting Donald Trump’s candidacy and his policies to actively pushing debunked conspiracy theories that could easily have come out of the mouth of the Republican nominee for president. Nevada needs a problem solver as our next senator, not a Washington politician like Congressman Heck, who parrots discredited right-wing conspiracy theories.”
Sharia, an Islamic religious law, governs religious rituals and various aspects of day-to-day life in Islam.
In translation, Sharia means “the way.”
While the Heck campaign tried to clarify the candidate’s comments, they said recent actions by Democratic leadership has left the country vulnerable to terrorism.
“The Obama administration, with the support of Hillary Clinton and Catherine Cortez Masto, has made our country vulnerable to more terrorist attacks by agreeing to accept refugees without any way to thoroughly vet potential threats – and that’s according to our own FBI,” Baluta said.
Baluta also said Heck prioritizes keeping Nevada’s families safe, which is why he opposes the Obama administration plan to accept Syrian refugees “until we can establish a more comprehensive system for identifying potential terrorist threats.”
During his appearance in Pahrump, Heck said that he was against President Obama’s plan to bring Syrian refugees to the U.S., as long as there’s no certainty that they don’t pose a threat to the U.S.
“I believe that we need to suspend that program, we have actually passed legislation that suspends the program until those agencies can tell us with certainty,” Heck said.
Contact reporter Daria Sokolova at email@example.com. On Twitter: @dariasokolova77