Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Mayoral candidates pay for misleading mailer endorsements

COPS Voter Guide

COPS Voter Guide

The COPS Voter Guide is a familiar sight during election season. Candidates pay to appear in the mailer, which can give the misleading perception that law enforcement has endorsed them.

A familiar sight in voters’ mailboxes every election is the COPS Voter Guide, and this season the guide shows an endorsement for Eric Garcetti’s mayoral campaign. Which means LAPD cops back Garcetti, right? Wrong.

The COPS Voter Guide is one of several mailers candidates pay to appear in. In this case, the Garcetti campaign paid $75,000 to get on the mailer, according to records with the Ethics Commission.

The mail pieces can give the incorrect impression that a party or union is backing a candidate. The Los Angeles Police Protective League endorsed Wendy Greuel for mayor – not Garcetti – and has spent $246,000 on TV and radio ads in her favor.

The COPS Voter Guide is registered in the Northern California town of Folsom. On the group's website, director Kelley Moran touts "over 20 years of experience working with public safety," and says "The candidates we support have pledged to make public safety a top priority and work with law enforcement to protect our safety."

Oh, and they've pledged to pay thousands of dollars to the COPS Voter Guide. Also playing-to-pay are candidates in every L.A. city council district and the races for city attorney and controller, plus candidates for three LAUSD board seats, and backers of Measure A, the proposed tax hike that Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and LAPD Chief Charlie Beck say will prevent police layoffs. 

But Greuel, too, paid to appear in mailers. According to the Ethics Commission, the campaign spent:

  • $7,350: California Law Enforcement Voter Guide
  • $13,835: California Latino Voter Guide
  • $11,731: California Voter Guide
  • $10,000: Our Voice Latino Voter Guide

Also, Jan Perry’s campaign paid $2,000 to appear on the “Your Ballot Guide.” 

As you go through the mountain of mail that will arrive before Tuesday's election, make sure you read the fine print.

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