10:00 PM PST on Thursday, February 25, 2010

Sacramento Bureau

SACRAMENTO – Republican state Senate candidate Russ Bogh and California’s largest private-sector construction union are engaged in a new round of bad blood over recent mailers criticizing Bogh.

The two-sided mailers, which began showing up a few weeks ago, criticize Bogh for spending money from his campaign account to pay for travel to Las Vegas and other activities when he was in the Assembly from 2001 through 2006.

“Russ Bogh …Working hard, or hardly working?” the mailer reads.

In a posting this week on the campaign’s Facebook page, Bogh supporters called the mailers “dirty tricks” from “liberal labor unions.” It said the attacks are meant to help elect Inland Assemblyman Bill Emmerson, Bogh’s main opponent in the April 13 GOP primary in Riverside County’s 37th Senate District.

“We need (Bogh) at work in Sacramento, but liberal labor unions are working overtime to stop him by smearing him with lies and distortions,” former Riverside County GOP Chairman Bob Richman said in the posting.

The 275,000-member State Building and Construction Trades Council represents workers in the construction industry. Like other unions, it gives the majority of its political donations to Democratic candidates and causes, state records show.

It also has donated to some Republicans in recent years, such as Assemblyman Brian Nestande, R-Palm Desert, and former Senate GOP Leader Dave Cogdill of Modesto.

Bogh also has received support from organized labor. Unions representing police, firefighters and correctional officers have given more than $125,000 to Bogh campaigns since 2001 and helped bankroll independent committees to help Bogh.

Campaign-finance reports indicate that the building-and-construction-trades union usually sits out GOP primaries or noncompetitive races. The exception seems to be when Bogh is involved.

The union spent almost $20,000 against him during the 2005-2006 election cycle, when Bogh couldn’t run for re-election. It spent another $62,500 in mailers against him during the 2008 primary campaign for Bogh’s 37th Senate District race against then-Assemblyman John Benoit.

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