Anaheim Mayor Donald R. Roth said Friday that he was unaware of a campaign letter sent over his signature in which he claimed incorrectly to be the only candidate for 4th District supervisor from Anaheim.
He said he will apologize to one of his opponents for the statement.
In another campaign development, Rep. Robert K. Dornan (R-Garden Grove) disavowed a letter written by Orange Mayor James H. Beam, who is also running for supervisor, that attacked Roth and listed Dornan as a Beam supporter.
The two announcements enlivened what had been a lackluster campaign for the county's 4th Supervisorial District seat, an area encompassing Anaheim, La Palma, Buena Park and Orange. The candidates, who also include former congressman Jerry M. Patterson and architect Manuel Mendez, will face each other in the June 3 primary election.
Roth and the three other candidates began the day at KOCE-TV studios in Huntington Beach to tape a program.
Asked about the letter that had been mailed to voters in which he said he was "the only candidate for supervisor from Anaheim," Roth at first said, "I did not see that piece of mail."
He then said the letter really declared that he was the only conservative Republican candidate from Anaheim.
"That's a lie," Patterson said. "You need to take responsiblity for the mail you sent. I think you owe me an apology, and you owe Manuel Mendez an apology."
Mendez, a resident of Anaheim for more than 20 years, and Patterson, a resident of the city since January, held a joint press conference on Thursday to denounce the letter, demand an apology and announce that the county's Fair Campaign Practices Commission was investigating the matter.
Patterson, noting that Roth's campaign consultant, Harvey Englander, had fielded questions on Thursday about the letter, said he wondered if Englander or Roth was running for supervisor.
Stands by Assertion
On Thursday, Englander said that Roth would stand by the letter, explaining that Patterson had only recently moved to Anaheim and that Mendez was not a serious candidate.
Mendez responded Friday that "when Mr. Englander says he doesn't regard me as a serious candidate, I'm offended."
Later in the day, Roth said, "I checked with Harvey and there were two different letters that went out." He said one of them had contained the "only candidate" from Anaheim reference, adding that he had not been aware of the mail.
"I guess I've got to read each of the pieces of mail thoroughly," he added.
Calls Patterson 'Carpetbagger'
Roth said he was writing a letter of apology to Mendez but not to Patterson, whom he labeled a "carpetbagger" who had moved to Anaheim to run for supervisor.
In another development, Dornan on Friday criticized a letter sent by Beam which attacked Roth and said that Dornan had endorsed the Orange mayor. The letter mentioned only three candidates in the race, omitting reference to Mendez.
Mendez, an Anaheim architect, has raised little money, did not pay for a campaign statement to voters and has appeared at only two forums with the other candidates so far.
Beam's letter was billed as a "special message to conservative voters." It criticized Roth for not addressing the problem of toxic wastes until after the Fricker Chemical Co. fire in Anaheim last year, which caused thousands to evacuate their homes.
Assailed on Billboards
The letter also blasted Roth for "changing his mind about putting up billboards next to our freeways after he took campaign contributions from billboard companies."
Signed by La Palma Mayor Keith Nelson and Orange Mayor Pro Tem Gene Beyer, the letter listed various mayors, council members, state and federal officials who have endorsed Beam, including Dornan.
Dornan said in a telephone interview that both Beam and Roth would be "superb" as a supervisor and that he was endorsing them both.
The congressman added that he would ask Beam "to please take my name off anything that is other than positive on Mayor Beam himself."
"They (Beam and Roth) are both excellent and feisty mayors, and I expected this would happen when the meltdown began in the last three weeks (of the campaign)," Dornan said. "But I don't want to be part of any of the radioactivity."
Beam said Dornan had endorsed him last year when he first declared his candidacy but was unaware that the congressman had also endorsed Roth.
Two years ago, Dornan beat Patterson, a five-term congressional incumbent, in a hard-fought election. Patterson is the only Democrat among the four candidates for the nonpartisan supervisor's post.