Foes see Pavley’s footprint in new ‘green’ mailer
SACRAMENTO -- Adding a green twist to an old political tactic, an environmental group sent a mailer to 50,000 Los Angeles County homes Thursday urging residents to vote by mail to eliminate the “carbon footprint” they would leave by driving to the polls on election day.
The mailer is being derided by some, while others are questioning whether it is improperly trying to influence a state Senate election in the West L.A. area by prominently featuring one of the candidates, former Assemblywoman Fran Pavley.
“It looks dubious,” said Tracy Westen, chief executive of the Center for Governmental Studies, a Los Angeles-based non-partisan group that promotes political reform in Los Angeles. “It’s coordinated with her, it has her picture on it and it is going into that Senate district.”
The mailer is being distributed by EdVoice, an education-oriented nonprofit based in Mill Valley, Calif. There is a picture of Earth on the cover and the request “Protect Our Planet.” It urges residents to “vote for president with a carbon free ballot” and includes a dig at those who would drive to the polls by car for “polluting the air and contributing to global warming.”
In the mailer, labeled as printed with soy ink on paper from “well managed forests,” EdVoice’s offer of “Carbon Free Voting” seeks to excite voters about environmental issues, representatives of the group said.
The mailer even promises to purchase carbon offsets -- EdVoice will compensate for the pollution caused by the mailers’ production and distribution by investing in clean energy -- as part of what it touts as “the state’s first 100% green vote-by-mail campaign.”
Colin Goldman, who plans to run against Pavley in the June election, said he supports absentee voting but thinks the mailer is “nonsense.”
Goldman, a Libertarian, accused Pavley backers of “skirting campaign finance laws” by sending to the Senate district a mailer featuring a photo of Pavley, whom it describes as an “environmental champion.” That could give her an edge with liberal West L.A. voters in a Senate race in which she is competing for the green mantle against a fellow Democrat, Assemblyman Lloyd Levine of Van Nuys. Levine declined to comment.
Leonard Lanzi, a Republican candidate, said he doubts that voters cause much of a carbon footprint.
“It’s very politically correct to be green, and she is taking advantage of that,” Lanzi said.
The district, which includes West Hollywood, Beverly Hills and Malibu, is very green, Lanzi said, volunteering that he is installing solar panels on his Topanga Canyon house.
Those behind the mailer say it is a get-out-the-vote piece for the February 2008 presidential primary and not aimed at electing Pavley. A mailer promoting Pavley’s candidacy would be counted as a campaign contribution, which is limited to $3,600, officials said.
“She is real well-known, so using her picture helps to show this is valid,” said Paul Mitchell, political director of EdVoice.
EdVoice’s political committee has contributed $1,000 directly to Pavley’s Senate campaign. The group is spending up to $70,000 on the absentee ballot campaign featuring Pavley.
Although many of the mailers will land in the 23rd Senate District, they also are going to other areas of the county, including Glendale and Pasadena, Mitchell said. The goal is to get thousands of additional voters to file applications with the county to become permanent absentee voters, which make up 11% to 13% of voters in the areas targeted.
In some Northern California counties, permanent absentee voters total 60% of those who vote, Mitchell said.