Disputed campaign mailer sparks controversy in City Council District 10 race

(Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times)

Disputed campaign mailer sparks controversy in City Council District 10 race

LA Politics, Elections 2024

Caroline Petrow-Cohen

March 1, 2024

A political mailer that arrived at residents near Baldwin Hills last month is stirring controversy in the Los Angeles City Council District 10 race and prompting City Council action this week.

The City Council approved a motion Wednesday to crack down on fraudulent campaign materials and forgeries after the Baldwin Hills mailer, which appeared to be sent by council candidate and current council member Heather Hutt, attracted attention. Hutt filed the motion in early February, days after the mailer was distributed.

The colorful mailer included a photo of Hutt and Mayor Karen Bass smiling together and a list of messages of support. It was packaged with a printed list of official city resources and a logo identifying Hutt as a council member.

This could violate Los Angeles City Ethics Commission rules that prohibit city officials from using their city title or position to endorse any candidate for office, including themselves. By reportedly including campaign material next to her city council logo, Hutt

has broken this rule, say its critics.

But Hutt’s campaign adviser, Mike Shimpock, said the campaign was not responsible for the mailing and had no knowledge of it. He said someone downloaded the campaign

kite kite

from the Ethics Committee website, where it is publicly available, and then printed and distributed itself, together with the list of sources.

Shimpock said whoever distributed the material was trying to make it appear that Hutt had broken the rules.

It’s ridiculous and it’s coming from someone who has an ax to grind, Shimpock said. We never printed or produced this.

Grace Yoo, a former city commissioner running against Hutt


said she believes Hutt filed the motion to conceal an ethics violation.

This is horrible, Yoo said. The fact is that she violated ethics. They get caught up in their lies and cover their tracks.

Devyn Bakewell, communications director at Hutts Town Hall, said the motion was tabled in response to the reality that technology is far ahead of our ethics rules, not just locally but nationally.

Whether it’s dirty tricks against the councilwomen’s campaign, the fake Biden robocalls in New Hampshire, or the need for Purdue University to create a Political Deepfakes Incident Database, we must put an end to this activity now , she said in an email.

Council President Paul Krekorian and Council Member Traci Park supported the motion. Krekorian was not aware of the mailing when he chose to support the motion, his spokesman said.

Dianne Lawrence, a District 10 resident who wrote an article critical of the mailer for the news website CityWatch, disputed Shimpock’s claim that the flyer was downloaded from the Ethics Commission website.

The image was posted to the website on Feb. 2, but Lawrence said residents received the material in late January, before an outside party could access and download the image.

Lawrence sent The Times cell phone photos of the materials on the doorstep on Jan. 28, with a time stamp. Shimpock said the photos were clearly fake.

Shimpock also said the mailer couldn’t have come from Hutt’s campaign because it didn’t have a small mark indicating it was printed by union-represented employees. All of Hutt’s official campaign mailings include the brand, he said.

This whole thing is so obviously fake, he said. We ran a completely clean campaign, we’ve been honest about all these things, and we’ve only talked about Heather.


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