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Independent operative apologizes for mailer listing dead people as supporters of Councilman Parks [Updated]

March 8, 2011 | 12:17 pm

An operative who produced an independent campaign mailer on behalf of Los Angeles City Councilman Bernard C. Parks that mistakenly listed more than a dozen dead people as Parks' supporters apologized to voters in a automated call Monday night.

In the call to some 8,000 voters, Ruben Gonzalez of the government relations and communications firm Englander, Knabe & Allen explained that he accidentally printed a list of political and religious leaders who had supported Parks in 2003 on the glossy flier that voters received from the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce’s Jobs PAC.

The mailing included esteemed figures who have died, such as the wife of former mayor Tom Bradley. It also listed some living leaders and organizations who are opposing Parks in Tuesday’s election, including Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor.

“Last week I made an honest mistake,” Gonzalez said on the automated call, explaining that the mailer used an old list. “Some of the people listed are not endorsing Councilman Parks in this race and some of them have even died. I made a mistake and I am very sorry.”

“The error was mine alone in not closely proofreading the mailer,” Gonzalez continued. “Councilman Parks had nothing to do with this mailer. Your vote for City Council should not be based on an error I made.”

Gonzalez included his phone number on the recording -– inviting voters to call him with questions -– and said he paid for the automated call personally.

In an interview, Gonzalez said he didn’t want “his error to negatively impact the councilman’s campaign.”

[Updated, 2:46 p.m.: On Tuesday, Gonzalez resigned.  In his resignation letter to the firm's four partners, Gonzalez said he was tendering his resignation with a “heavy heart” after six years with the company. Eric Rose, a partner with the firm, said the group would not have any comment on the circumstances of Gonzalez’ departure: “Englander Knabe & Allen does not and will not discuss personnel matters, so the letter from Ruben contains everything we can say about the matter.”]

Parks’ chief opponent, Forescee Hogan-Rowles, and her supporters have sought to draw attention to the mailer. Ridley-Thomas held a press conference Friday suggesting that Parks should apologize even though the mailer did not come from his campaign.

Parks, the city’s former police chief, said that would not be appropriate since it is illegal for candidates to coordinate with independent campaign committees. He added that he hoped “whoever paid for it got their money back.”


March 8 City Election: Ballot Overview

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Bernard Parks faces a tough reelection campaign

-- Maeve Reston