Assembly Democratic candidate Willard H. Murray's campaign has released information claiming the support of numerous local officials in heavily Democratic Compton, including two who say they have endorsed Murray's Republican opponent, Assemblyman Paul E. Zeltner of Lakewood.
Zeltner denounced the claims--which were printed in a local political mailer and a church newspaper--as "the latest installment in a campaign of deceit" in the 54th District race. His office issued a press release Tuesday that disputes Murray's claims of support from Compton Councilman Robert Adams and Compton Fire Chief Monroe Smith. "This guy has no concern for the truth," Zeltner said in an interview. "The only thing he has in his mind is to say what is necessary to win."
Chris Lopez, Murray's campaign consultant, said Wednesday that her firm, BAD Campaigns, erroneously included Smith among its list of supporters, but she said Murray said he had received an oral endorsement from Adams in June. Adams denied in an interview that he endorsed Murray.
The firm released the information to The Community Democrat, a political tabloid published for years by Murray, Lopez said. She said Murray disassociated himself from the publication this year because of his bid for the Assembly.
Lopez said Murray's campaign did not pay for coverage in either publication, and she could not explain how the information appeared in the A.C.C. Church and Community News, a religious newspaper distributed at churches. Efforts to contact the publishers of the A.C.C. News and The Community Democrat were unsuccessful.
"We feel this is pretty minor," Lopez said. "It is being blown out of proportion. If we had Tom Bradley on the front, and he hadn't endorsed him, that would have been major."
The October issue of The Community Democrat and the Oct. 23 issue of A.C.C. News contain identical layouts that appear to be advertisements boasting about Murray's support in Compton. The layouts list Adams as one of 18 local officials who have endorsed Murray and include separate photographs of Murray with Adams and Murray with Smith.
The layouts do not claim Smith's endorsement, but the caption under the photograph of Murray and Smith states: "Compton Fire Chief Monroe Smith feels strongly that Assembly candidate Willard Murray will bring the kind of tough new leadership that this community needs and deserves."
The caption accompanying the photograph of Adams and Murray states: "Compton Councilman Robert Adams supports Willard Murray for Assembly."
Adams, the only Democrat on the Compton City Council to endorse Zeltner, said in an interview Tuesday that Murray used his name and photograph without permission.
"He's lying," Adams said. "I have never endorsed Willard Murray. . . . Deception is part of politics."
Smith would not return phone calls, but Zeltner's office released an endorsement card signed by the fire chief and quoted him in the press release.
"I do not support Mr. Murray," Smith is quoted as saying. "I am a Zeltner supporter."