Represent! | Politics, government and public life for Southern California

[UPDATED] Assembly candidate's wife sues over opponent's ad showing confidential information

Images of old tax liens against Assembly candidate Matthew LIn appear in this video ad,
Images of old tax liens against Assembly candidate Matthew LIn appear in this video ad, "Lifestyles of the Rich and Republican," posted by the campaign of his opponent, Ed Chau. Lin's wife sued, alleging that her identifying information appears in Chau's videos and mailers.
Ed Chau for Assembly campaign ad on YouTube

The wife of Republican Assembly candidate Matthew Lin has sued his opponent, alleging he invaded her privacy and put her at risk of identity theft by publishing her Social Security number in mailers and videos seen by thousands of San Gabriel Valley residents.

Joy Lin filed the lawsuit against Democratic candidate Ed Chau. (UPDATE: Superior Court Judge Edward Simpson on Wednesday issued an order temporarily barring the Chau campaign from further displaying Joy Lin's Social Security number and he set a Nov. 27 hearing in the case.)

The candidates are running in the 49th Assembly District — the first in the state with a majority Asian-American population. Though the district has more registered Democrats than Republicans, about 30 percent of its voters do not identify with a political party. Lin won the June primary by more than 15 points. 

The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleges Chau and his campaign displayed copies of government tax liens agaist Matthew Lin and his wife, with her Social Security number legible in four mailers that went to at least 10,000 people, and in a video on YouTube called "Lifestyles of the Rich and Republican."

"We've never really seen this in any other campaigns before, so this was completely unexpected," said Miryam Mora, Lin's campaign manager.

The liens were at least a decade old, and in one case, the lien named only Joy Lin and was issued erroneously, Mora said.

Chau's campaign manager, Josh Pulliam, said an inches-wide image of a lien document bearing Joy Lin's Social Security number was unknowingly sent in a bilingual English-Cantonese mailer to about 8,000 households in the district.

When Lin's campaign attorney pointed it out more than a week ago, Pulliam said the Chau campaign offered an apology and removed an image of the lien from the campaign video and agreed not to recirculate it via mailers.

The Chau campaign also offered to cover the cost of identity theft protection, but Lin declined.

Mora, with the Lin campaign, said no apology had been offered.

Pulliam said the lawsuit and attendant publicity coming from the Lin campaign was intended to distract public attention from other issues, including Lin's ownership of Garfield Medical Center, a Monterey Park hospital that agreed to pay a half-million dollars last year to settle a sexual harassment case brought by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Lin is vice-chair of AHMC Healthcare, which owns seven hospitals.

The 49th Assembly District includes Alhambra, East San Gabriel, El Monte, Glendora, Monterey Park, North El Monte, South El Monte, Rosemead and San Marino.