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O.C. won't send letter to voters

Supervisors cite cost in refusing a request to send a clarification to 14,000 Latinos who got a warning mailer.

October 25, 2006|Christian Berthelsen | Times Staff Writer

Orange County supervisors on Tuesday refused to send a clarification letter to 14,000 Latino Democrats who received a mailing linked to a Republican congressional candidate warning immigrants they could be jailed and deported if they vote in next month's election.

The four Republican supervisors overrode the request of the lone Democrat, Lou Correa, that the letter be sent out and instead passed a resolution condemning the campaign mailer. The California secretary of state's office has already said it will send a corrective notice to recipients of the original letter.

The state attorney general's office has traced the mailer to the campaign of Tan Nguyen, who is running in an underdog bid to unseat Rep Loretta Sanchez (D-Santa Ana) in the 47th District. Nguyen has said his office manager was involved in sending the mailer but denied any knowledge of it.

The Republicans, led by board Chairman Bill Campbell, said they did not want to set a precedent and allow the county registrar of voters to become the arbiter of campaign disputes. They also raised concerns about the cost to taxpayers, even though the largest county employees union and the campaigns of state Senate candidates Correa and Lynn Daucher, who are running for the seat that overlaps the congressional district where the letter was sent, offered to reimburse the county.

Ashley Giovannettone, a spokeswoman for the secretary of state's office, said the state's correction letter, which will be in Spanish and English, was being finalized and might be sent out as early as today to the people who received the initial campaign mailing.

Republican political operatives have criticized government correction letters as being taxpayer-funded, get-out-the-vote advertisements for district Democrats. Democrats say it is the registrar's job to counter efforts to disenfranchise voters.

Among those urging the county to send the letter were the mayors pro tem of Garden Grove and Anaheim, where many residents received the mailer, as well as Daucher.

Although many speakers applauded the board's resolution, several said the county needed to go further.

"This might be Southern California, but it's not the deep South," said Patrick D. Kelly, the secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 952.

"It needs to come from the person who says, 'You can vote here in this county,' " said Ruben Alvarez, a Santa Ana resident and community activist who received the mailer.

Although the board was scheduled to discuss and vote on Correa's request for a correction letter, Campbell and board member Chris Norby pushed a superseding motion to adopt the resolution condemning the mailer. As a result, the board never voted on Correa's original proposal.

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christian.berthelsen@latimes.com

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