DOWNTOWN — Santa Monica police officers and firefighters on Thursday said a mysterious independent expenditure group that calls itself Santa Monicans for Quality Government had misappropriated the public safety associations’ logos and was misrepresenting the groups’ positions in its political literature.
The public safety unions were responding to a mailer sent to some Santa Monica households this week that urged support for four City Council candidates: Pam O’Connor, Gleam Davis, Terry O’Day and Bob Holbrook. The mailer noted the Santa Monica police officers and firefighters associations have endorsed each of those candidates, but made no mention of the fifth candidate both associations are backing: three-term incumbent Kevin McKeown.
The flier prominently featured the logos of both public safety unions beneath the sentence, “Who do our police officers and firefighters trust to protect us?” and included pictures and descriptions of the four candidates. It contained a fine print message that said it was from Santa Monicans for Quality Government.
Sgt. Jay Trisler, the president of the POA, said his association never spoke with representatives from the independent expenditure group and played no part in sponsoring the message.
He said the public safety associations had contacted an attorney and were planning to send a cease and desist letter to the group.
“It’s a misrepresentation of our endorsements,” Trisler said, adding that he was concerned residents who received the mailer would assume it was from the public safety unions themselves.
“I have not encountered this before as the [POA] chair where somebody has mailed something out appearing to be our literature and excluding candidates [whom we endorsed].”
He added: “[McKeown] has been nothing but an advocate for public safety within the community.”
Little information about the group responsible for the flier was available on Thursday. According to campaign disclosure forms, its president is Fred Huebscher, a professional political consultant who is managing the campaigns of two candidates who appeared on the flier, Gleam Davis and Pam O’Connor. According to the flier, Davis and O’Connor paid to be featured on the mailer, but O’Day and Holbrook did not.
A call to Huebscher’s office was not returned by deadline, and the names of donors to the group were not available.
Reached on Thursday, Davis said she has no involvement with the group and had simply paid to be included on what her campaign consultant said was a public safety slate mailer.
She said she agreed to be on the slate but had no knowledge of which other candidates would be featured.
“The nature of the slate mailer beast is it’s a way to get your name out into the public, and you don’t control who else is on the slate,” she said.
As for McKeown, who four years ago won re-election despite a flurry of attack ads paid for by the hotel industry, he didn’t seem to be overly concerned about the flier, saying in an e-mail: “I’ve been strongly endorsed by our police officers and firefighters each and every time I’ve run for office, and I hope the community knows that.”