Measure S campaign says controversial mailers are protected by "free speech"

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Campaign mailers about an anti-development initiative on the March 7 ballot in Los Angeles have become as controversial as the measure itself.

The Measure S campaign blames big new developments for destroying neighborhoods and displacing lower-income renters. To hammer that message home, the campaign sent out mailers last week, which look like eviction notices from the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department.

On Friday, the county's lawyers ordered the campaign to stop mailing them to residents.

But the Measure S team has accused the county of being in the wrong, saying in a letter sent Monday that county officials were trying to "censor the free speech rights of the proponents." Campaign lawyer Frederic Woocher demanded the county withdraw its cease-and-desist letter and “refrain from further engaging in partisan politics.”

The county responded, saying it's analyzing its next steps. County spokesman Joel Sappell said that in the meantime, the county had put the Measure S campaign on notice.

"The County believes it has protected the public from receiving deceptive mailers in the future that use the name of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department without authorization and needlessly alarm residents," Sappell said in a statement.

This is the second time the Measure S campaign has been called out for its mailers. Mayor Eric Garcetti has demanded the campaign stop using a mailer that features his image and signature, which he said, falsely gives the impression that he supports Measure S.

Garcetti is in fact one of the measure’s most visible opponents. He said that its passage would hurt much-needed housing production in L.A. which would raise rents. 

Yusef Robb, spokesman for Garcetti's re-election campaign, accused the Measure S campaign of "flat-out" lying to voters.

"It's unacceptable to deceive voters," Robb said. "Have we not had enough fake news and deception in our electoral process?"

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