Raising the stakes in a campaign to represent the Eastside, a supporter of Los Angeles Councilman Nick Pacheco sent out a second attack mailer over the weekend against challenger Antonio Villaraigosa, accusing the one-time mayoral candidate of being a “womanizer.”
The mailer, which was financed by a longtime Pacheco backer, Ricardo Torres, names Villaraigosa’s alleged mistress, accuses the former state Assembly Speaker of infidelity and attacks his family members. The piece asks: “Will you allow the 14th Council District to become one of Antonio Villaraigosa’s one night stands?”
Although Pacheco, who will face Villaraigosa in the March election, has said previously that he intended to call Villaraigosa’s character into question during the campaign, he disavowed the mailers. He said he has told Torres to stop his efforts, but has received no assurances that he would.
“I feel like Ricardo is being an idiot,” Pacheco said. “I’m very upset.”
Villaraigosa, meanwhile, said he held Pacheco personally responsible.
“Nick Pacheco and his campaign owe my family an apology for invading their privacy and for attacking their character,” he said. “Voters of Los Angeles are tired and disgusted by these nasty intimidation tactics. It’s time for Mr. Pacheco to get out of the gutter and talk about the issues that are important to the people of the 14th Council District.”
The slick flier began arriving Saturday at households in Boyle Heights, Highland Park, Eagle Rock, Mount Washington and surrounding areas.
Two days earlier, Torres sent out a leaflet accusing Villaraigosa of ignoring needs of Hispanic constituents at the urging of “white advisors” and “gringos.”
A spokesman for Mayor James K. Hahn, who defeated Villaraigosa in the 2001 mayoral race, said the mayor is continuing to support Pacheco’s reelection bid, but he wants the attack ads to stop.
“This type of campaigning is not appropriate,” said Deputy Mayor Matt Middlebrook. “We are going to talk to Nick Pacheco and his campaign and let him know that the mayor won’t be part of a campaign that engages in these kinds of tactics.”
Torres, a personal injury attorney who went to law school with Pacheco, has promised to issue two attack mailers against Villaraigosa each week until Villaraigosa abandons the race against Pacheco. He plans to raise $500,000 from Villaraigosa’s foes to finance the campaign.
He did not return calls for comment on Sunday, but in an interview on Friday, Torres said he was preparing to hire a private investigator to help find material.
William Wardlaw, one of Hahn’s advisors, said he is “a firm believer in hardball politics, not sleazy politics.
“It’s stupid. It’s despicable. It’s bad politics,” said Wardlaw, who supports Pacheco. “I hope this stops or it’s going to be hard to support Nick.”