Huizar campaign consultant fired for vowing to "put a political bullet" in opponent's forehead [Updated]
A campaign consultant for Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar was fired Sunday after he told supporters in an e-mail that the campaign was planning to “put a political bullet” in the forehead of Huizar’s opponent in the March 8 election.
Huizar campaign spokesman Michael Trujillo sent an e-mail Friday to roughly two dozen Huizar employees and campaign workers boasting that the campaign would “unleash the dogs of Satan” on Huizar’s opponent, businessman Rudy Martinez, by publicizing news that he improperly possessed a badge belonging to an Los Angeles police officer killed in the line of duty.
The e-mail went out shortly after Huizar’s campaign gave The Times a heavily-redacted copy of a 2005 report from the LAPD, which investigated how Martinez had come to be in possession of the badge. The Times subsequently wrote a story on the matter and noted that it was the latest salvo in what is shaping up to be one of the most brutally negative City Council races in recent memory.
In the e-mail, Trujillo told supporters to be prepared for a news conference about the allegations on Monday, and gloated about the effect the allegations would have on Martinez’s campaign.
“I treated him like I was a cat playing with a trapped mouse,” wrote Trujillo. “Well, now he is going to be the dead rat he really is....We are about to put a political bullet in between Rudy Martinez's forehead and make him pee in his pants too.”
The e-mail comes one month after the shooting of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, an incident that prompted advocacy groups to call for an end to violent rhetoric in political campaigns.
Trujillo described his e-mail as “tongue in cheek” and said it should not be associated in any way with violent acts.
But Huizar campaign consultant Parke Skelton said Trujillo’s words were indeed inappropriate and would have been even if the Giffords shooting had never happened. Still, Skelton said there was no “evil intent” behind the e-mail. “It was an attempt to buck up the campaign and let them know that things were going good,” he said.
The firing was the latest twist in an increasingly bizarre campaign. Martinez and Huizar are one-time friends who now attack each other on a near daily basis. Martinez’s mother worked for Huizar until last summer. Huizar, in turn, relied on Martinez in recent years to refinance his Boyle Heights home and select tenants for his rental house in El Sereno.
Martinez also has a sushi bar in Eagle Rock with a sushi roll named after Huizar, although he recently changed the menu item’s name to the more neutral CD 14 roll, a reference to the council district both men now seek to represent.
In recent weeks, Martinez and two former Huizar staffers have said the councilman is under investigation by the FBI. Huizar, in turn, has hammered Martinez on the badge issue and highlighted Martinez’s four misdemeanor convictions, which were racked up between 1985 and 1992 for crimes such as battery and reckless driving.
Meanwhile, L.A. County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley has opened separate inquiries that deal with both men, one into Huizar’s past consulting work for a union organization and another into $6,000 in campaign contributions given to Martinez.
Martinez campaign spokesman George Gonzalez said Huizar himself should apologize for Trujillo’s e-mail. He pointed out that Martinez’s brother, Mario Martinez, was shot in the head and killed in Hollywood in 1987 by an attacker who was never arrested. The campaign described the crime as a “gay bashing.”
In addition to his work for Huizar, Trujillo works for the re-election campaign of school board member Richard Vladovic and is a consultant with California Strategies. Trujillo would not identify his clients.
[Updated at 7:20 p.m.A previous version of this post incorrectly said that U-Haul, Scan Health Plan and the National Football League were clients of Trujillo's firm. They are not.]
Trujillo was one of the anonymous bloggers who wrote for the Mayor Sam political blog during the 2005 election, criticizing various politicians while writing anonymously under the name “Chief Parker.”
Last week, Trujillo resurrected “Chief Parker,” signing the e-mail with that moniker. The e-mail also contained the statement that Martinez was “a disgusting human being that needs to be sent back from the vile bag of tripe he emanated from.”
He vowed in the e-mail that Martinez would “wish he never heard the words Team Huizar.”