Organizers of a successful anti-airport ballot measure that passed overwhelmingly Tuesday sent a letter to supporters Friday criticizing a second group for soliciting funds to defend the measure in court.
"Please do not send contributions to this [other fund], which, while promoting Yes on Measure F, diverted money from the main campaign and is not expected to pay for the legal defense of our committee and the initiative," said the warning letter.
The measure was challenged in a lawsuit filed Friday by two pro-airport groups.
The letter was signed by a half-dozen heavyweights in the anti-airport fight, including Bill Kogerman, chief operations officer of Citizens for Safe and Healthy Communities; Jim Davy, who led the petition drive to qualify Measure F for the ballot; and Len Kranser, the committee's communications director.
The organizers denounced a fund-raising appeal sent Thursday for the second group, which has the similar name of the Safe and Healthy Communities Fund. That appeal was signed by Jeffrey Metzger, chairman of the first group, the Citizens for Safe and Healthy Communities.
It also said that the chairman of the second group, anti-airport activist Ed Dornan of Irvine, had been removed from the campaign because of his separate fund-raising activities.
Metzger said Friday that he was "taken aback" by the letter.
"To say funds were diverted is preposterous," he said. "If Ed Dornan wants to raise money to defend the measure, that's great. I'd sign a letter for someone else wanting to raise money to defend it."
Kogerman said the creation of the second group fractured fund-raising efforts and confused donors because the names of the groups are so similar.
"It's unfortunate and, I can assure you, it's sad that any splinter group would try to take credit for Measure F over [the committee's] 5,000 volunteers," Kogerman said.
Irvine Councilman Larry Agran, an ally of Dornan's, called the dueling letters "a small matter."
Dornan, who could not be reached late Friday for comment, raised about $600,000 for his group, which he used on direct-mail appeals to North County residents. Citizens for Safe and Healthy Communities raised about $1.3 million for a variety of advertisements and activities promoting Measure F.