Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa waded into the increasingly negative campaign for mayor, calling for the removal of two ads that attack mayoral candidates Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel but were not created by either candidate's campaign.
Appearing at a news conference focused on reform of the Los Angeles Police Department, Villaraigosa criticized a new TV ad from the independent expenditure group Lots of People Who Support Eric Garcetti, saying it wrongly described Greuel as a supporter of Proposition 187. That 1994 ballot measure sought to deny illegal immigrants access to public education and other services.
“That commercial is out of line, out of step with a diverse city and has no room in politics,” he said.
Villaraigosa also spoke out against a Spanish-language commercial financed by Greuel backer Feliciano Serrano, saying it made “outrageous claims” about Garcetti’s ancestry and wrongly linked him with Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the Arizona law enforcement official who has supported crackdowns on illegal immigrants.
“I know Eric Garcetti. Eric Garcetti does not support the policies of self-deportation or the policies of Sheriff Joe Arpaio,” said Villaraigosa, who argued that both commercials should stop appearing.
Both ads were created independently from the Greuel and Garcetti campaigns. As a result, both were financed in a way that avoided the city's strict contribution limits.
Villaraigosa has not endorsed in Tuesday's election. He made his remarks flanked by LAPD officials at an event announcing the final step in the lifting of the department’s federal consent decree.
The anti-Garcetti ad shows an image of a sneering Garcetti being licked by flames. It questions whether Garcetti, who is descended from Mexican immigrants of Italian blood, has played up his Latino heritage to win office. "Why didn't he proclaim that he was Latino before?" the ad states.
Garcetti spokesman Jeff Millman called the ad "shameful."
The Lots of People for Garcetti ad states that Greuel was a Republican "during the anti-immigrant era of Pete Wilson," the governor who spearheaded Proposition 187. That measure is a hot button issue in Los Angeles, especially among Latino voters. Greuel, who switched from the GOP to the Democratic Party in 1992, called the ad "disgusting," saying she campaigned against Proposition 187.
Serrano did not return a call seeking comment about his anti-Garcetti ad. But Rick Jacobs, co-chairman of the Lots of People group, said he would not remove the anti-Greuel spot and argued that everything contained in it was accurate.
“Wendy Greuel was a Republican for not one, not two but 13 years. She was a Republican when Pete Wilson ran for governor and won. Had he not won in 1990, there would not have been a Prop. 187,” Jacobs said.
Greuel said she did not vote for Wilson in the 1990 gubernatorial election.
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