The state Fair Political Practices Commission said Tuesday that it is reviewing a complaint by Democratic state Senate candidate Janice Graham, alleging that Republicans meddled with her primary campaign earlier this month.
Graham, of Laguna Hills, said a Republican political action committee in Sacramento spent $17,000 to mail copies of a letter in support of her campaign for the Feb. 6 special primary for the 31st Senate District seat nomination.
Graham won the Democratic primary and will face, in an April 10 runoff election, Assemblyman Frank Hill (R-Whittier), who narrowly defeated Assemblyman Gil Ferguson (R-Newport Beach).
Political officials speculated that the letter had been intended to strengthen Graham's campaign so Democratic voters would not defect to Ron Isles, a pro-choice Republican who was appealing to Democrats. They also speculated privately that Hill was the intended benefactor of the letter. Hill's campaign has said it had no knowledge of the mailing.
Officials for Voter Information League, the source of the letter, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
The special election was held to replace former state Sen. William Campbell (R-Hacienda Heights), who resigned in December. The district straddles the border between Los Angeles and Orange counties, stretching from Whittier and West Covina in the north to Laguna Beach in the south. It includes the cities of La Mirada and La Habra Heights.
Sandra Nichioku, a spokeswoman for the FPPC in Sacramento, said that Graham's complaint had been received Tuesday and that there would be no further comment until the commission examines the issue.
Graham said the letter may have helped her campaign, but she complained that it had been unauthorized and contained inaccurate information that caused some recipients to complain to her office.
She also said that some of the letters arrived after the primary, "making her campaign look incompetent," and that the letter led some people to believe that she had an alliance with Hill to defeat Isles.
"Frank Hill is the last person that I want to be allied with," Graham said in a statement, adding that Hill is a subject of an FBI influence-peddling investigation at the Capitol.