LANCASTER – As we reported last week, Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris financed a hit mailer that claimed City Council candidate Johnathon Ervin was a “gang candidate” who had led an “anti-law enforcement protest.” Read more here.
A new political mailer making the rounds this week also takes aim at Ervin, while urging Democratic voters to choose Oscar Mejia and Jordan Campbell for Lancaster City Council.
The Democratic-themed mailer warns recipients: “Don’t Vote for for ‘Dishonest John’ Ervin,” and it claims Ervin pled the 5th when questioned about soliciting a bribe; Ervin was kicked off the Lancaster Planning Commission for corruption; and Ervin is a Trojan Horse Democrat supported by Palmdale Republicans. View the mailer here.
Both Campbell and Mejia have denounced the mailer and say they had no part in its production.
“I’m truly upset to know that someone would do such a thing and then use me as a scapegoat for it,” Campbell said. “I do not agree with it because I do not believe in slandering an opponent in order to further a political gain.”
“I want people to know, first of all, I didn’t send it and it never met my preapproval,” Mejia said. “Every candidate I’ve met, I always greet with a warm smile and a handshake. I don’t go out bashing people because that’s just not what I do.”
The mailer is designed to appear as if it comes from the Democratic Party, however, the mailer was actually produced by an organization called Democratic Voters Choice. The fine print states that “Democratic Voters Choice is not an official political party organization.”
Democratic Voters Choice is owned by marketing and advertising consultant Tom Kaptain, who could not be reached for comment.
In an LA Weekly article titled “Slate Mailer Sleaze in L.A.,” Kaptain claimed to “know every councilman in every small town in California,” and said the profit-making mailers were “a way to help my friends…” Read the article here.
Another news article in the Bakersfield Californian claimed Democratic Voters Choice faced frequent criticism for sending out mailers that appear to represent Democratic views, but which endorse Republicans. Read that article here.
“This is what you call a fraud that’s perpetrated on the voters,” said Eric C. Bauman, Chair of the Los Angeles County Democratic Party.
In a phone interview Thursday, Bauman said the Lancaster mailer in question had absolutely nothing to do with the County Democratic Party, which had actually endorsed Johnathon Ervin.
“The things that are said about Johnathon Ervin on this mailer are both misleading and frankly downright despicable,” Bauman said. “It’s all part of a campaign that clearly seems to be orchestrated by the Mayor [R. Rex Parris]… to make sure that Johnathon Ervin is not elected to city council.”
Parris did not return repeated calls for comment on whether or not he had financed the Democratic-themed mailer.
Lancaster City Council candidate David Paul said Mejia and Campbell should be held accountable, to some degree, for the content of the mailer.
“I know both candidates have denounced the mailer and claim they did not give their permission to have their pictures in the mailer, but they still need to account for what role they actually had in it,” Paul said. “Who paid for the mailer and what part they played in it at all need to be answered. If they were taken advantage of we need to know who did it and why, and these questions need to be answered before the election.”
The Lancaster election takes place April 8.
Previous related stories: