BY THEO DOUGLAS Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
A southeast Bakersfield resident has filed a complaint with the state accusing former Bakersfield City Council candidate Efren Martinez of targeting now-Councilman-elect Willie Rivera with a hit piece during the recent Ward 1 special election.
The June 13 complaint, filed with the Fair Political Practices Commission by Ward 1 resident Marie Langdeaux, accuses Martinez of being behind a mailer sent out "(on) or about June 1" that she believes unfairly linked Rivera, a district coordinator for the 16th Senate District, to his former boss, Michael Rubio, who recently resigned from the state Senate seat.
Rivera finished first and Martinez a distant second in the Ward 1 special election.
Martinez's name does not appear on the mailer, and a representative of his campaign declined to comment on the complaint, received by the FPPC two weeks after the June 4 council election.
Langdeaux also notes in her complaint that the group whose name does appear on the mailer, Voters for Good Government, is not listed as an active political action committee on the California Secretary of State's website.
"Birds of a Feather Flock Together!!!" reads one side of the mailer, which appears to have been included in the complaint.
It includes an excerpt from a May 6 Los Angeles Times article about Rubio being fined $200 for failing to disclose that he sold his Bakersfield house to an oil executive who had loaned him hundreds of thousands of dollars. But in the excerpt, the amount of Rubio's fine appears to have been edited out, while the amount of the loan is highlighted in boldface type.
The other side of the mailer reads, "Don't vote for corruption ... don't vote Willie Rivera ... ."
This side features a misleading excerpt from Rivera's campaign finance report for the period of Jan. 1 through April 20, along with the claim that Rubio for Senate 2014 donated "over $60,000 of his money including special interests contributions" -- when in fact, Rubio's donations for that period totaled $15,000.
A second mailer, from the Saving Local Jobs PAC and also apparently included with the complaint, reads "Democrats Support Efren Martinez" and features testimony from a writer claiming to be Martinez's son.
That group isn't listed on the Secretary of State's website, either.
Langdeaux said she believes there is a link between Martinez and the first mailer.
"I do, actually, because in a lot of instances, there were instances where he was doing things," Langdeaux said. "I think that a lot of what's going on in elections plays to the negativity of it. Campaigns should be focused on the facts."
Langdeaux declined to say specifically how she believes Martinez is behind the first mailer, saying she needed to get back to work.
Martinez did not return phone messages seeking comment.
Rivera said he's not aware of any link between Martinez and Voters for Good Government.
"I don't have any proof of that. I don't think there's any proof of that. I think that's why maybe some research needs to be done into who paid for it, where it came from," said Rivera, who will be sworn in as Ward 1 councilman at the June 26 Bakersfield City Council meeting.
An FPPC representative said the complaint "is being reviewed to determine whether or not to open an investigation."
Langdeaux said in the complaint that she believes whoever is behind Voters for Good Government may use the July 23 runoff election to fill the 16th Senate District seat as an opportunity to further mislead voters.
"I urge the FPPC to investigate as soon as possible since there is another local Special Election in July and I believe people associated with this annonymous (sic) mailer may engage in further illegal acts as they are clearly well funded," she wrote.