Appeared to Be From Homeowners Group : Woo to Retract Endorsement Letter

Times Staff Writer

Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Woo’s reelection campaign has mailed out 2,000 copies of what appears to be a letter of endorsement by the Studio City Residents Assn., even though the group is not supporting him.

The letter was printed under the group’s letterhead and over the signature of its president, Polly Ward. After Ward complained Friday, the campaign agreed to send retractions to the recipients.

Glowing Review

Ward said Woo had asked for an endorsement, but she approved only the use of a letter from her as an individual.

The letter, mailed last Thursday, contained a glowing review of Woo’s work since his 13th District was redrawn two years ago to include Studio City.

It concluded with what appeared to be Ward’s signature. However, she said she hadn’t signed--or seen--a final version after a draft was read to her over the telephone.

“The Studio City Residents Assn. heading on it implied the association was sending the letter, and it was signed by me as president,” Ward said. “I can’t tell you what I said when I got the letter yesterday at my house.”

Ward said it is against state law for her association to endorse candidates because it has a nonprofit, tax-exempt status.

Woo apologized to her Friday, she said.

The councilman was unavailable for comment. A spokeswoman pinned the mix-up on the campaign manager, Steve Afriat.

“I misunderstood my instructions,” said Afriat, a political consultant. “My understanding was that because it was a letter from Polly, we could use her letterhead.”

When Ward was not available to give him a proper letterhead, “We kind of mocked up one . . . I did what any campaign manager would do. I made the best letterhead possible.”

Campaign Manager

Afriat said he doesn’t believe that the letter can be construed as an association endorsement, because it said at the bottom that Ward’s title was given for identification purposes only. But he said he is drafting an apology nonetheless.

This time, he pledged, he’ll let Ward read it in advance.