Gadfly’s Messages Tout Moore for Mayor

Times Staff Writer

The underground war to influence the Los Angeles mayor’s race is starting with automated phone calls from a conservative gadfly who is touting little-known Republican candidate Walter Moore.

Hal Netkin, a Van Nuys resident who supported San Fernando Valley secession and is a vocal opponent of illegal immigration, said he was calling 2,500 numbers a day with a message that attacks the five leading candidates, chief among them Councilman Antonio Villaraigosa.

Some of Netkin’s messages refer listeners to his website, which accuses the various mayoral candidates in the March election of having “communist leanings” or belonging to the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, an L.A.-based group that Netkin calls “anti-American.”


Former L.A. City Councilwoman Joy Picus said she received one of Netkin’s messages Monday morning. “I was appalled,” she said, calling it “disgusting.”

Picus, who represented the West Valley for 16 years until 1993, said she was not backing any candidate in the race.

Netkin said he was unconcerned by the criticism.

“They always get offended,” he said, noting that he ran a similar operation during the 2001 mayoral campaign.

So-called independent expenditures on behalf of candidates, which are not subject to the same limitations as direct contributions to candidates, played a large role in the 2001 mayoral race, with expenditures reaching $1.9 million.

To control these tactics, the city now requires those who make more than 1,000 recorded phone calls on behalf of a candidate to send transcripts of the recordings to the Ethics Commission.

Netkin, who has not filed anything with the Ethics Commission, said he believed any such requirement was unconstitutional.


Moore acknowledged that Netkin was making calls but said he was not working with him.

“I don’t control anyone else’s content,” said Moore, who has been struggling to attract attention to his campaign. “But other people are free to express their views.”

Netkin identifies Moore, the lone Republican candidate, as “the only candidate who can fix Los Angeles.”