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Dead people are listed in mailer as endorsing Parks

March 4, 2011 |  9:34 pm

Flanked by residents of the 8th Council District, Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas lashed out Friday at a piece of campaign mail 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.

Click to read the mailer 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 he was appalled by the literature sent to 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 counted some groups and living leaders who are supporting Hogan-Rowles as Parks' supporters, including Ridley-Thomas and the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor. It also listed Ethel Bradley, the widow of the former Mayor Tom Bradley 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 deceased Congresswoman Juanita Millender-McDonald, who died in early 2007 and was named on the mailer.

By law, candidates and their campaign 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 chamber's 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."   

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 He said the PAC had relied on its vendor, Englander, Knabe & Allen, which used what he called a "woefully outdated" list of supporters from Parks' 2003 race for City Council.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

Image: Mailer sent to potential voters by the Los Angeles Jobs PAC.