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Mailer sent on Parks' behalf lists dead people supporting his reelection

L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who backs Parks' foe in the City Council race, blasts the Chamber of Commerce mailer as 'political manipulation.' The chamber says the firm that created the piece relied on a 'woefully outdated' list from an earlier Parks race.

March 06, 2011|By Maeve Reston, Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas is blasting a campaign mailer sent out by an independent political action committee that listed more than a dozen dead community and religious leaders as endorsing Councilman Bernard C. Parks' reelection campaign.

Ridley-Thomas, who ran against Parks for the Board of Supervisors in 2008 and has endorsed his challenger Forescee Hogan-Rowles in Tuesday's council race, said Friday that he was appalled by the literature sent to 8th Council District voters by the Los Angeles Jobs PAC, which is sponsored by the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce.

During a news conference in front of the beleaguered Marlton Square development project off Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Ridley-Thomas called the mailing one of the "most stunning displays of political manipulation" that he had seen in his 25-year political career.

The piece also wrongly listed as Parks supporters some groups and community leaders who are supporting Hogan-Rowles, including Ridley-Thomas and the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor. It also listed Ethel Bradley, former Mayor Tom Bradley's widow, who died in 2008, as an honorary co-chair of Parks' campaign.

"This is a new low. It is trickery — worse than that, it is incompetence. It creates a level of cynicism in the political process that many of us have fought long to oppose," Ridley-Thomas said.

He concluded the event by reading a letter of outrage that he said was "authorized" by the family of Rep. Juanita Millender-McDonald, who died in early 2007 and was named on the mailer.

By law, candidates and their campaigns cannot coordinate with independent committees that make expenditures on their behalf. But Ridley-Thomas said Parks should denounce the piece.

"It's not illegal to apologize; it's not illegal to express regret," Ridley-Thomas said.

When asked about the mailer, Parks said: "The reason they're called independent is because we have nothing to do it. It's unfortunate, and I would hope that whoever paid for it got their money back."

L.A. Chamber President Gary Toebben said the organization was "embarrassed and angry" about the mailer. He said the political action committee had relied on its vendor, Englander, Knabe & Allen, which used what he called a "woefully outdated" list of supporters from Parks' 2003 race for City Council.

"This kind of carelessness and grave mistake does not live up to our standards for accuracy and our communications, political and otherwise," Toebben said in a telephone interview Friday afternoon. "We're apologetic to Councilmember Parks and all the persons who were listed in error on this mailer."

Toebben added that Parks "had nothing to do with this, and it should not reflect on his integrity, nor on the integrity of his campaign."

maeve.reston@latimes.com

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