Nury Martinez backers sent out illegal campaign mailers, rival says

Rival of Councilwoman Nury Martinez says a group backing Martinez sent out illegal campaign mailers

Los Angeles City Councilwoman Nury Martinez's rival in the March 3 election says an independent group backing the incumbent violated city ethics laws by sending out mailers that do not list the major donors who paid for them.

Eric Hacopian, a campaign spokesman for challenger Cindy Montanez, said a group calling itself Valley Families for Nury Martinez sent mailers late last week supporting Martinez's reelection.

City records show the mailers cost $32,000. The Valley Families group also paid $20,000 for a poll, the records show.

The mailers, which tout Martinez's record, do not list the major donors to the independent group that paid for them as required. And as of midday Monday, no contributions to the newly formed committee had been posted to a website maintained by the city's Ethics Commission to keep track of political giving.

Hacopian likened the lapses to "money laundering."

"This is a blatant violation of city law,'' he said. "Nury's supporters are trying to hide whatever nefarious sources that are funding this illegal I.E."

City ethics officials did not immediately return calls. But section 49.7.33(b) of L.A.'s Campaign Finance Ordinance requires that communications sent on behalf of candidates by independent committees must list at least two major donors.

Valley Families for Nury Martinez was created Jan. 21 by a coalition of business, labor, public safety and healthcare organizations that are backing Martinez's run, said Amber Maltbie, an attorney for the group. The media for the campaign is being coordinated by Shallman Communications, a Valley-based political consulting firm.

Although fundraising started in recent days, no amounts in excess of $1,000 had been received at the time of the mailings, Maltbie said. Contributors are considered "major donors" when amounts are greater than $1,000.

"The mailers included the legally required disclaimer at the time of printing,'' she said. "And when such a time comes that there are major donors, the committee's name will include them."

The race is a rematch of Martinez and Montanez, who faced each other in a July 2013 special election. Martinez, a former Los Angeles school board member, stunned the political community by defeating the heavily favored Montanez, a former state legislator and executive with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.

Martinez' 6th Council District covers the east Valley communities of Van Nuys, Arleta, Pacoima and Sun Valley.

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