Wednesday, December 1, 2010

LA Weekly Smears WeHo City Council Candidate Lindsey Horvath With Weirdly Misogynistic Hit Piece

I miss the LA Weekly. I really do.

I miss Michael Ventura, Ginger Varney, Ella Taylor, and Marc Cooper.  I miss LA Weekly's good, progressive voter guide. Remember that? Good times.

That's all gone now. Instead, we get weirdly misogynistic hit pieces based on hidden agendas and innuendo like this.

It was sketch enough when the tight-knit WeHo City Council skirted democracy to appoint the young, blonde Lindsey Horvath to its fifth seat in 2009, after old favorite Sal Guarriello died just short of term.
Now, the 27-year-old appointee is cowering at the prospect of having to actually win the hearts of WeHo voters.
So desperate is the fair incumbent, in fact, that she has resorted to illegally spamming her constituents on the council's Constant Contact listserv, using the official WeHo City Council template and logo to ask for votes and campaign funding.
Horvath's crime? Including in the sig line of campaign emails, and using a stylized West Hollywood city logo on her campaign website.

Have a look. I'll wait.

Here's the deal. Horvath uses her own Constant Contact account, paid for out of her own pocket. Something that the LA Weekly, had they taken five minutes to do the research, could have figured out on their own. As for the West Hollywood logo and website address on her campaign website? Again, I did something the LA Weekly "reporter" evidently couldn't be bothered to do until two days after the original story was written, I contacted Horvath's campaign.

"Along with other City Council candidates, I received a letter regarding the use of the City's logo, and I removed it from the site accordingly." Horvath said in response to my question.

Sure enough, if you look at her website now, the logo is gone. And WeHo is just fine with it. Even the LA Weekly admits that.
WeHo City Clerk Tom West said he sent out an e-mail on Tuesday informing the candidates that printing the city logo on campaign fodder is illegal. However, the original Horvath e-mail up for display at WeHo News shows she was sending out the opt-ins as late as Wednesday. West denies he knew anything about this, and that his initial warning was only sent out after "it was brought to [his] attention that there was a [paper] poster with the city name on it." He said he's sure Horvath won't be punished.
"I think if you take it down, you take it down," West said. "And it's done." 
Sandi Gibbons, the L.A. District Attorney's public-info officer, said she isn't aware of the case, but will keep her eyes out for a complaint to the Public Integrity Division. Update: "We have received no complaint involving that candidate. Sorry."

Right about this time, you might be thinking, "I need to water my plants." Don't run away quite yet, because it gets more interesting. Another WeHo City Council candidate, Mito Aviles, is guilty of "illegally" using the City logo on his campaign website too.

Have a look. I'll wait.

Aviles, unlike Horvath, has yet to comply with WeHo's request to remove the city logo from his campaign website. This has not gone unnoticed by the city. Tom West, when I spoke to him this afternoon for this story, told me an email was sent to Aviles today, this time citing the specific code Aviles continues to violate. This was West's second warning to Aviles (the original was sent snail mail - the LA Weekly incorrectly reported emails had originally been sent to candidates). 

I'm sure the crack team at the LA Weekly are all over this. (Actually, not so much. Type in Aviles' names and you get, well, crickets. )

So what's this really about?

My experience of Horvath is that of a committed progressive and fierce advocate for women's rights, particularly women's reproductive rights. In fact, that's how we met - working together last year to help defeat  the Stupak amendment.

I live in Venice, not West Hollywood, and I'm not going to pretend I understand the inner workings and machinations of WeHo politics. But I do know a hit job when I see it. Based on the LA Weekly story, and the WeHo News story on which their dictation reporting was based (no mention of Aviles' website there either), this was clearly an orchestrated attempt to intimidate Horvath into dropping out of the race early.

I call bullshit. Frankly, I've seen more entertaining palace intrigue - and more ethical reporting - at my junior high class president election. 
The boys behind this - and they're mostly boys - need to stop wasting voter's time and city resources with unsubstantiated innuendo and start engaging candidates on policy. Don't like Horvath's politics? Fine, don't vote for her.  

As for the LA Weekly - trying getting off your ass and do some actual reporting next time. Snarky comments about a woman's hair and eye shadow does not a news story make.

LA Weekly was forced to correct their story once again in response to our story, and have now admitted their original "reporting" on the Constant Contact account was wrong. They've posted this rebuttal from Horvath campaign manager, Park Skelton.

"Councilmember Horvath, like virtually everyone these days, has a wide range of personal contacts from many different sources accumulated during her history as an activist and community leader. No public resources were used in the development or maintenance of her personal contact list. And, as with any e-mail communication, if a recipient does not wish to receive further e-mails they can easily unsubscribe. A political campaign, as you know, uses a variety of means of communicating with voters, including e-mail. It is an essential component of a functioning democracy." 

Mito Aviles has removed the WeHo city logo from his campaign website.

Mr. Aviles said Thursday morning that his web master had been instructed Wednesday to take the logos down from the web site.
“This must have been an oversight” said Mr. Aviles, “he did take the logo off several pages, but must have missed that one.”
On the posters, he said his campaign would be taking them down from walls and window across town as soon as it was possible, replacing them with new art.
According to Mr. Aviles, neither Ms. Horvath nor he meant to deceive in using the logo.
Instead, its use, to him, was a symbolic expression of pride in the city and an effort to express a sense of place.
“Neither Lindsey or I were trying to deceive voters,” he said.


  1. Excellent comments - sometimes you are known by your enemies and everyone I know supports Lindsey. Her record is exemplary and a publication that used to be a refreshing added voice seems to be drowning in it's own trivial private agenda!

    Thom O'Shaughnessy

  2. No one voted for Lindsey. We live in democracy, remember?

  3. Yes, you do. And guess what, if you don't like her, you can campaign against her and vote her out of office in just a few months. That might be slightly more effective than crying over spilled milk, wouldn't you agree?

  4. Marta, I hope the charges related to this matter are not true. But the charges are serious, charges of public corruption. Ms. Horvath is the one who should be answering questions right now. If she is guilty, it doesn't matter that she supported reproductive rights. Ethics are a prerequisite.
    I know that Ms. Horvath is overwhelmed by recent events, but her refusal to answer questions related to this matter only make it worse.

  5. Ed, you don't have a case. You might get the hacks at the LA Weekly to do your bidding, but you wont get me to fall in line.

    What questions has she refused to answer? I asked her if the Constant Contact account was the WeHo's or hers. She said it was hers. I asked her if the logo was taken off her site. She said it was, and indeed it's gone. There's no other issue, that's the whole enchilada.

    Frankly, I think it's time to start asking you a few questions, Ed. What's your agenda here? Why attack Horvath and not Aviles? By your standards, the've both committed the same "crime". Theoretically Aviles is the worse offender since he's yet to comply with WeHo's demand.

    Your repeating the same bullshit over and over again Ed, but you don't back your accusations up with anything but more bullshit.

  6. I suppose small town boys want to be like the big boys who talk about Secretary Clinton's hair but really - how about some policy, some issues, some truth.

  7. I live in the city of Ventura, where outrageous and silly personal attacks on councilmembers by individuals with axes to grind are the norm. But even by those standards, this is really sad.

    L.A. Weekly needs to do a better job of fact-checking their smears.

  8. Marta, My concern here is public integrity. You ask some questions and I will answer them:

    She has refused to answer questions asked by the WEHONEWS.COM reporter. Here is that story and recording of the 6 minute interview.

    You ask why Horvath and not Aviles. I have rebuked them both. But Horvath is a public official with access to city resources who presumedly took her required ethics training. In addition to the logo, it seems that her campaign site uses the address for city hall, and the list may have been generated with city resources.
    And Marta, you can call my comments "bullshit" if you wish, but the truth is all I seek. Your attacks on me for Horvath's behavior are curious.
    When I questioned Meg Whitman for refusing to answer questions, I was your hero. When I question Lindsey Horvath for much the same, I am a villain. Sounds like a double standard Marta.

  9. Ed, I applauded how you stood up to Whitman. Her record was well documented and you were well within your rights. As for Horvath, I've looked at the facts, interviewed interested parties and come to the conclusion the "case", as it were, is completely without merit.

    Horvath used her own Constant Contact account, not the city's. You or the LA Weekly have been unable to dispute that. Horvath used her own email list for the campaign. Again, you or the LA Weekly have zero proof she's done otherwise. When it was pointed out to her campaign that she was not allowed to use the city logo on her campaign website, she immediately took it down.

    Yet you hound her as if she boiled your baby and ate it with a spoon. None of this adds up unless you're talking about a personal vendetta, which is what this is starting to smell like.

    If you've approached Aviles about his website, I'd like proof please. Copies of emails or links will work.

  10. Marta, perhaps it is you that should be providing the audit trail of the "facts"you looked at, and the "interested parties" you have spoken with. Even Ms. Horvath does not claim that it is completely without merit, but she has yet to apologize.

    There will be an investigation by persons less biased than you. If I am wrong, I will publicly state so.
    and Marta, just because you were unable to find proof you weren't looking for does not mean it is there. Try looking at the WEHONEWS.COM article. Ask any of several folks who received an email solicitation from Horvath without signing up for it.

    why don't you join me in calling for an investigation, if I am wrong I will donate the max $500 to Horvath, If you are , how about $500 to an animal rescue?

    We both want the truth, let's go find it.

  11. Ed,

    Everything I have to say, every contact I've had, I've listed in the above article.

    You keep moving the goal posts. First it was the email account, then it was the logo, now it's that some unamed parties are claiming to have received insoliticed emails from Horvath.

    Stop wasting my time. If you have an issue with Horvath, try organizing and campaigning against her instead of stalking her.

  12. A friend of mine has a favorite phrase--"mansplaining." It's basically when a man condescendingly "explains" something to those crazy feminist women who are just too irrational to understand this "serious" issue.

    Ed, if I ever need to provide someone with a clear-cut example of mansplaining, I'm going to point them to your comments. Look at the words you've used to describe Lindsey Horvath--she's "damaged," she's "overwhelmed," she's "like Sarah Palin." And you're saying that the rest of us here just simply can't understand the seriousness of your (constantly changing) accusations with our poor little female brains!

    Your stalking of everyone involved in this campaign is, quite frankly, creepy. As Marta has pointed out, you and your friends keep changing the accusations. First it was the email list, which no one even bothered to ask who was paying for before making wild accusations. Next it was the logo, which Lindsey Horvath promptly took down once informed that she couldn't use it.

    I have now read the California statute in question multiple times. Reading and interpreting statutes is what I do on a daily basis. There is a clear requirement that for Horvath to have done anything illegal, it must have been done "with intent to deceive" the voters. There was absolutely zero intent to deceive here, as evidenced by the fact that she took the logo down immediately upon getting the warning.

    When you can prove otherwise, then you can start calling for an investigation.

  13. As for the LA Weekly, I'm going to repeat my initial criticism...anyone over the age of 16 who describes a situation as "sketch" really has no place in grown-up political discussions. They should try reporting on the junior high student council elections instead.

  14. Dismissing potential campaign law violations and possible ethics violations because the campaign says they are acting correctly is not "good" journalism - it's good PR work.
    The LA District Attorney (whom you did not call, apparently, tsk, tsk, Marta) is investigating the ethics violations inherent in sending appeals for political donations under the guise of authority.
    Horvath may be paying for the account out of campaign funds or her own pocket - that issue has not yet been answered - but close inspection of the E mails sent out show a possible pattern of deception.
    dd to that Horvath's defense of her use of the logo: That law doesn't apply to ME because I intended no deceit - is disingenuous.
    She evaded answering questions with technicalities (e.g. "I didn't post anything, so I can't answer that...").
    Why, if this lawmaker seeking election has nothing to hide, does she flat refuse to answer the question "Did you read CA election law before Tuesday of after Tuesday?
    You live in Venice, so I suppose the bar is lower in Los Angeles - especially among party boosters such as yourself - but In West Hollywood we expect our lawmakers to have at least faint familiarity with the law.
    We also expect straight answers, and don't accept political cronies' assurances that "there's nothing to see here, folks; move along."

  15. Ryan, just got off the phone with the DA's office. You're lying. There is no investigation.

    Nice try.Apparently the bar is lower in WeHo when it comes to making wild accusations.

  16. Lying? They may have decided not to pursue an investigation, but district attorney David Demerjian told me he had opened an inquiry on Tuesday.
    Nice try, but besmirching my character (something you chose to do before questioning me at all) won't further your political cause one whit.
    But of course, public relations is a very different game than journalism.
    We'll continue to report the facts in pursuit of the truth - you go ahead and continue spouting your "truth in pursuit of facts."
    How would you like to have this all posted in a publication with some readers (WeHo News)?
    I'd be glad to post it, unedited.

  17. Nice. Resorting to threats. Wonderful.

    Ryan, there is no investigation. I don't know what you were told. And frankly, at this point, I just don't care.

    You know what I love about this entire exchange? I've written extensively about health care reform, DADT, marriage equality, women's reproductive rights, homeless rights, the 2010 election and the TSA scandal, and THIS story - a story about a City Council race for a tiny city a mile square is what I get endless comments about.

    It proves the old adage: The smaller the stakes, the greater the back-biting.

  18. Threat? Is that really to what you think an offer of publishing your thoughts amounts?
    Talk about paranoia.
    And on your calling me a liar - see the following E mail - at least someone is actually talking to the DA and not merely Sandi or Jane.

    From: Ed Buck
    Date: Thu, December 02, 2010 2:28 pm
    To: "Ryan Gierach, editor, WeHo News"

    I called Dave Demarjian (213 974-6501) at the DA's Public Integrity Div. He said they have had several complaints that and they are reviewing the matter regarding the use of the city seal and the use of public resources (the list). In a few days they will decide if they are going to open an investigation. So for now it looks like we will not file an additional complaint and will wait for word from them to see if they decide to open an investigation. We'll take it from there. (end E mail)

    The offer to publish your column unedited is no threat - it's an offer to make your thoughts more widely read. Oh, that might be construed as a threat to some people; my bad.

  19. You're still lying, or at the very least revealing yourself to be completely ignorant about how the legal system works. They are "reviewing the matter," but have not yet opened an investigation, as a few of you have claimed. I could go to the DA right now and file a complaint of defamation against certain newspapers in this matter, and then I could turn right around and say that I have the DA looking into it and you're all going to be criminally charged. That doesn't make it true.

  20. Ryan you wrote: "The LA District Attorney (whom you did not call, apparently, tsk, tsk, Marta) is investigating the ethics violations inherent in sending appeals for political donations under the guise of authority."

    That's a lie. Edj's email proves that.

    End of story.

    I do not want to be reprinted in the WeHo "news". My blog gets plenty of coverage and I don't need to drag this catfight over there.

  21. goldni - whomever you actually are (don't people yet realize that hiding behind an avatar and a nickname instead of identifying themselves undercuts their credibility?).
    As stated in a previous post and re-iterated by Mr. Buck, an inquiry has been opened, with a decision on a investigation pending.
    Contrary to your assertions, no one has written on this blog that anyone is "going to be criminally charged."
    Therein you admit your ignorance, because even an investigation does not inevitably lead to criminal charges.
    If I might, I'd also like to add that the DA told me it's likely the complaints about the alleged improper use of the E mail account would not be a criminal matter anyway - to quote him, "It would be a civil matter; someone could sue the campaign in civil court but we wouldn't prosecute it as a criminal matter."
    Send me your name and address so I can pursue defamation - I don't take kindly to being called names by ignorami.

  22. Right on Marta - I did use an incorrect legal term - investigation ought to have been "inquiry" and I stand corrected.
    That, however, does not justify character assassination, and your continued use of a pejorative amounts to defamation.
    How may our lawyers get in touch with you?

  23. Oh, BTW Marta - Mito has not yet removed the logo from his web site, as we reported this morning.
    Stop lying.

  24. Ryan, if it's there, I can't find the logo. I've navigated all the tabs on his site. If you have a link, please provide it.

  25. Ryan, are you familiar with what a SLAAP suit is? Something tells me you are. Here's the definition for the rest of you:

    "A strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) is a lawsuit that is intended to censor, intimidate and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense until they abandon their criticism or opposition.

    The typical SLAPP plaintiff does not normally expect to win the lawsuit. The plaintiff's goals are accomplished if the defendant succumbs to fear, intimidation, mounting legal costs or simple exhaustion and abandons the criticism. A SLAPP may also intimidate others from participating in the debate. A SLAPP is often preceded by a legal threat."

  26. California Code of Civil Procedure, Section 45:

    "Libel is a false and unprivileged publication by writing,
    printing, picture, effigy, or other fixed representation to the eye,
    which exposes any person to hatred, contempt, ridicule, or obloquy,
    or which causes him to be shunned or avoided, or which has a tendency
    to injure him in his occupation."

    So therefore, Marta or I calling you out on your bullshit, hurting your feelings and bruising your poor little fragile ego, doesn't rise to the level of libel (California still makes a distinction between libel and slander for defamation law purposes). But, for a newspaper to falsely accuse someone of committing a crime or is going to be subjected to a torrent of lawsuits, and then going back and admitting they didn't even ask all of the relevant questions before publishing it, probably would rise to the level of an actual injury.

    As for my identity, I keep my screen name for consistency from when I first started blogging. A quick Google search can tell you a lot. But it doesn't surprise me that you expect everyone to do the work for you, you all admitted that you didn't care to do any research when you ran the hit piece.