Controversy is rising over what some claim appears to be an endorsement that crosses the line between church and state.
We are talking about a political mailer, which claims some prominent people who signed it support Karen Goh for Kern County Supervisor. One of them is Monsignor Craig Harrison of St. Francis Church in Bakersfield. However, Harrison says he doesn't take political sides. He apologized while speaking to 17 News Wednesday for the misunderstanding and says he didn't realize he was signing a campaign mailer.
Harrison says he supports Goh, but he is not endorsing her for Kern County Supervisor.
"I didn't read it, they gave it to me and I signed it. I was talking to people at the time, and I thought I was signing that I support her, and I do support Karen Goh, but I do not personally endorse any candidates and I never have," he said.It seems Harrison is caught in the middle of this controversy, which involves the Kern County's District 5 supervisor race between incumbent Karen Goh, Leticia Perez, and Tim Tarver.
Andy Stanly is a campaign representative for Goh. "I was there representing the letter to him. He read to the letter and physically pointed to the bottom and asked 'Is this where I sign?' and that is when I presented the other sheet for him to sign."
Monsignor Harrison told 17 News, he doesn't endorse Karen Goh, instead he supports her and her efforts as the current supervisor. "Well I want to say that I have not endorsed any particular candidate in the race. Do I support Karen Goh? absolutely, and I will support her in the mission that we both like to help the poor," said Harrison. "I haven't been approached by any of the other candidates, but Karen Goh asked me if I support the work she does and I very much do."
Ray Gonzales of Bakersfield says he attends St. Francis Church and he strongly believes the church shouldn't be involved. "I believe the Catholic Church or any church is free to argue issues that are related to their religion to their theology, but to endorse political candidates, to me, that is a big no in the Catholic Church."
17 News spoke with Karen Goh about this controversy. She only expressed gratitude toward Harrison saying, "I am very thankful for the support of Monsignor Craig. I think he is a wonderful person and I very much value him."
Harrison says he respects the Catholic Church's laws when it comes to keeping the church and state separate.