At the least two native elections arising in Lengthy Seaside on Nov. 3 have been impacted by what seems to be impersonations of candidates and present officers looking for to affect the campaigns. The impersonations, in response to Metropolis Prosecutor Doug Haubert, are doubtless unlawful.
Final week, textual content messages went out to District 8 voters that disparaged Councilmember Al Austin, who’s looking for re-election towards Tunua Thrash-Ntuk. The messages, which have been reviewed by the Press-Telegram, mentioned they have been paid for, partially, by Fifth District Councilmember Stacy Mungo.
Mungo, in a telephone interview, denied any involvement.
One other textual content message disparaging Austin that was despatched to voters mentioned it was paid for by the Lengthy Seaside Reform Coalition. Ian Patton, a spokesperson for the group, mentioned the coalition was not concerned with the textual content and has filed a grievance with the town prosecutor; Haubert confirmed receiving that grievance.
And early Thursday morning, Oct. 15, a number of officers and residents within the Lengthy Seaside space — together with Lengthy Seaside Metropolis Faculty Space 4 candidate Herlinda Chico — acquired a pornographic voicemail that seemed to be despatched from the telephone variety of one in every of her opponents within the race, Dick Gaylord.
Gaylord, although, additionally denied involvement and mentioned he believed his telephone quantity could have been “spoofed,” a follow during which a caller can masks their telephone quantity with another person’s. The know-how to spoof a telephone quantity is definitely accessible, however it’s unlawful to make use of it “with the intent to defraud, trigger hurt or wrongly acquire something of worth,” in response to the Federal Communications Fee.
Haubert mentioned he was conscious of no less than seven totally different communications that seem to impersonate others in an try and affect native Lengthy Seaside elections, although he mentioned he anticipated to uncover extra. He additionally mentioned it seems “that a number of candidates operating for workplace are being focused.
“That is very disturbing and disgusting,” he mentioned in a telephone interview, “and it completely must be investigated, and if we discover the perpetrator or perpetrators, there ought to be prosecution.”
Haubert mentioned he believed there “are in all probability a number of legal guidelines being violated,” together with the California Political Reform Act, which requires political marketing campaign messages to incorporate an correct description of who paid for or despatched the message.
He added that investigating the instances will contain “a technical investigation,” and he’ll ask the Lengthy Seaside Police Division to help.
Haubert declined to offer additional details about what which will entail.
“It’s approach too early to debate any particulars of an investigation,” he mentioned, “however that is fairly disgusting to me.”
On that time, Mungo — who has endorsed Austin for re-election — agreed.
“Using my identify and repute to smear my colleague is disgusting and all that’s flawed with politics,” she mentioned in a Friday telephone interview. “I proceed to help Al Austin and the nice work he continues to do for the Eighth District and our metropolis.”
Austin, in the meantime, in a telephone interview described the textual content messages as “cowardice and scandalous, and I believe it simply exhibits there’s a determined try and win in any respect prices.
“I’m hopeful that this shall be a possibility,” he added, “for individuals to have a look at future elections and presumably even laws and protections towards this sort of act occurring sooner or later as a result of that is simply — it’s simply ridiculous.”
Thrash-Ntuk additionally denied any connection to the messages.
“Outdoors pursuits try to trigger chaos and confuse voters,” Thrash-Ntuk mentioned in a press release. “I name on our Metropolis Clerk’s workplace to analyze the textual content messages that seem to have been despatched from Lengthy Seaside organizations with out correct disclosure. I’ll proceed to denounce such assaults on me and my opponent.”
And the impersonation within the race for a brand new trustee to signify Space 4 for the Lengthy Seaside Neighborhood Faculty District is equally unclear. A number of individuals — together with Chico, supporters of hers and supporters of Gaylord’s — acquired the identical 32-second pornographic voicemail round 4 a.m. Thursday morning, which appeared to return from Gaylord’s telephone quantity.
The Press-Telegram has independently reviewed the telephone logs and voicemails of a number of individuals who acquired the message. At the least 4 individuals obtained it on the identical time, 4:23 a.m.
Reached on the identical telephone quantity that appeared to go away the voicemails, Gaylord denied any involvement or data of what occurred. He mentioned he is aware of it’s attainable for different individuals to make calls that seem to originate from elsewhere, and mentioned he suspects that’s what occurred right here.
Gaylord filed a grievance with the FCC Thursday afternoon.
“I’m not an ideal particular person,” he mentioned, “however those that know me know I’ve completed a number of good for lots of people in the neighborhood, and it actually hurts — this kind of factor, it hurts.
“I’m not, I assume, as ready for politics as I ought to be,” he added, “however that’s as a lot as I do know.”
The campaigns of his two opponents, Chico and Lee Loveridge, additionally deny any involvement.
Chico, for her half, filed a report with the Lengthy Seaside Police Division after receiving the voicemail as a result of, the candidate mentioned, she felt it was an act of intimidation.
“As a girl, I used to be horrified and shaken once I heard this message,” she mentioned. “It’s disgusting, violating, and I’m shocked that somebody would use a tactic like this to obviously attempt to intervene with this election.
“When the perpetrator is recognized,” she added, “I’ll completely file expenses.”
Loveridge, in the meantime, didn’t obtain the voicemail. However, he mentioned, he feels it’s “a horrible act.”
“I can say fairly definitively it’s not (my marketing campaign),” he mentioned. “I hope it was not any of the campaigns, as a result of I believe that’s a extremely unhappy, low tactic.”
Others who acquired the voicemail embrace Sign Hill Councilmember Keir Jones, who has endorsed Chico, and Lengthy Seaside Councilmember Suzie Value, who has endorsed Gaylord.
Haubert, in the meantime, made clear his view on the impersonations — whatever the motive behind them.
“I discover it disgusting,” he mentioned. “There ought to be no place in politics for this sort of conduct. I do consider it crosses the road and is prohibited.
“I’m very early within the investigation phases,” Haubert added, “however we positively are going to look into this and attempt to discover the particular person or individuals behind it.”