Politics, government and public life for Southern California

District Attorney investigates complaint in Hollywood area council race

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The District Attorney's Office is investigating a complaint that campaign workers in a Hollywood area city council race illegally filled out ballots for voters. 

The complaint was filed by the John Choi campaign against his opponent Mitch O'Farrell. According to the campaign, the O'Farrell camp mishandled ballots and outright voted on behalf of constituents in the Little Armenia neighborhood. The O'Farrell campaign denies all the allegations. 

"This is the most blatant and widespread case of voter fraud I've seen in 20 years of political campaigns," said Mike Shimpock of the Choi campaign. "They are literally stealing this election. This needs to be stopped."

In response, an attorney for the O'Farrell campaign sent a cease-and-desist letter and countered with its own accusation that the Choi campaign violated election laws by completing ballots for voters. 

"While we have no doubt that the tactics employed by your campaign will be resoundingly rejected by the voters of Los Angeles, we will bring these matters to the attention of appropriate prosecutorial authorities, including the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission, the Los Angeles County District Attorney, and the United States Justice Department," attorney Cary Davidson wrote in the letter.

The race to take over Councilman Eric Garcetti's seat has become increasingly hostile. At a forum this week, Choi said his opponent was using race and ethnicity in the campaign. 

"My opponent has continued to attack me from day one, using language like ‘new arrival,' ‘outsider,’ and ‘not one of us,’” said Choi, who is Korean-American. “That type of language has been used for decades to raise xenophobic fears of outsiders and immigrants.”

O'Farrell said he does not agree with mailers send by an independent group that have referred to Choi as "not from our community." However, O'Farrell did note that Choi moved into the district just last year to run for the city council seat. 

The runoff is May 21. 

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