Assembly candidate's campaign firm criticized
More often than not, it’s the candidates in a hot contest who draw the slings and arrows of activist voters. But in the case of the crowded race for a newly drawn San Fernando Valley Assembly seat, it’s a candidate’s campaign consulting firm that has caught the unflattering attention of five community movers and shakers.
The five recently wrote an “open letter” to charter schools executive Brian C. Johnson, one of six people seeking the seat in the 46th Assembly District. In the letter, they said that Johnson’s campaign firm, Englander, Knabe & Allen, was registered as a lobbyist with the city of Los Angeles and with the state, with clients including “large corporations ... billboard companies [and] trash haulers.”
“We are concerned about the undue influence that your consultants and the special interests they lobby for will have on your decision-making if you are elected as our next state Assembly member,” the letter states.
Although the letter asks for his response, Johnson said he had never heard of it until The Times asked him about it and gave him a copy.
Calling the letter a “fake,” Johnson noted that his campaign firm, in regard to lobbying, is active mainly in the city and has only “three small Sacramento clients.”
“My commitment has always been and will continue to be to students, families and workers — not to any consultant,” Johnson said.
He noted that three of the five letter-signers have made no secret of their support for one of his opponents, Adrin Nazarian, a top deputy to Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Krekorian. Mary A. Garcia, Leah Hertzberg and Brad Parker are listed on Nazarian’s campaign website as supporters; none of the three lives in the district.
Garcia said it doesn't matter whether she and the others, all Valley residents, live in the district.
“Just because I live a few blocks away doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be concerned,” Garcia said. “As a concerned citizen, I want the best [legislators].”
Johnson said the letter represented “the type of insider politics I am running against” and called it “a distraction from the important and real issues facing Valley residents.”
Besides Johnson and Nazarian, other Democrats on the June 5 ballot are businesswoman Laurette Healey, law professor Andrew Lachman and business owner Adriano Lecaros. Chemistry instructor Jay L. Stern is the only Republican. The top two finishers, regardless of party, will compete in the November general election.
-- Jean Merl
Photo: The California state Capitol dome at night. Credit: Los Angeles Times