An election flier being handed out to residents in the Santa Clarita Valley and surrounding areas is causing a stir between California campaigns.
The flier, released in a joint effort by Republicans Steve Knight, Scott Wilk and Dante Acosta, states that they are “the team for Santa Clarita” and features a photo of a decorative wall welcoming visitors to the city of Santa Clarita that includes the city’s seal, which sits off the I-5 freeway at Magic Mountain Parkway, according to street images on Google.
Democrat Bryan Caforio’s campaign stated the fliers are misleading and imply “the campaigns have some kind of official endorsement from the city,” violating state election codes which prohibit the use of local government seal for campaign purposes.
Wilk’s campaign argued that “Caforio is grasping for legitimacy” with its claims and will continue to hand out the fliers until Election Day.
“It is a picture of a sign,” said Matt Rexroad, Knight’s campaign consultant and spokesman. “The seal is certainly not being used in any way to communicate an inappropriate endorsement from a public body.”
In an original press release, Caforio’s campaign stated that it filed a complaint with the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC).
However, Jay Wierernga, FPPC’s communications director, said the organization does not regulate the content of political advertising, but only advertising disclosure, as per the law.
“However, local ordinances and other state election code may apply when it comes to use of official seals in political advertising,” he said.
Shortly after Caforio’s campaign issued its statement, staff members issued a corrected press release stating that the complaints were actually filed with the California Attorney General, the Los Angeles District Attorney and the Santa Clarita City Attorney.
The city of Santa Clarita’s Attorney Joseph Montes would not respond to the Signal’s requests for confirmation of a complaint, or to comment on the matter.
Caforio’s campaign filed the complaints in order to stop Knight from “deceiving voters,” according to campaign manager Orrin Evans.
California Election Code section 18304(a), which prohibits the use of local government seal for campaign purposes.
This violation is considered a misdemeanor offense and carries a penalty of up to $1,000 fine per violation.
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