Two candidates targeted by a phony campaign telephone message say
they hope the revelation will lead to cleaner City Council campaigns.
Defeated District 4 council candidates Ron Winship and Rick Taylor
said they are glad the origins of a “dirty campaign trick” have come
to light, but neither plans to take any legal action.
“To have your name tossed around like a doll, that’s not right,”
Winship was named, without his consent, in a recorded telephone
message produced by campaign consultant Dave Ellis.
The message urged voters to support “Greenlight candidate Ron
Winship,” even though Winship was not the candidate endorsed by
Greenlight in that race.
Rick Taylor, the real Greenlight candidate for District 4,
believes that the message was designed to confuse Greenlight
supporters, thereby splitting their vote and giving the advantage to
Ellis’ client, Councilman Gary Adams.
Ellis admitted creating the message to use in the campaign but he
said he never authorized sending it out.
Greenlight representatives said that a number of people received
the message. One resident confirmed that she had gotten a phone call
with the recording. Ellis said this must have been an accident.
“I just hope that some poor candidate two or four years down the
road doesn’t have this happen to them,” said Taylor, who first
discovered the connection between Ellis and the message by tracing it
to a phone database service.
Ironically, Taylor and Ellis until very recently were fighting on
the same side of another issue: John Wayne Airport expansion.
Taylor is vice president of the Airport Working Group, which hired
Ellis as a consultant.
That relationship ended last year after a halt was placed on
spending city grant money for airport education. Financial reports on
that grant drew fire from some because Ellis’ firm received about
$458,000 for consulting and other services.
This financial relationship is permissible under the terms of that
Taylor said he and Ellis were on amicable terms, even as the two
found themselves in opposing camps in the District 4 race.
“We’ve been cordial for a long time,” Taylor said. “I was running
for a position that I thought was going to give a voice to the
residents, and Dave decided to represent a candidate who was part of
the good old boys’ network. That’s where we split. But I never
expected it would come to this.”
Greenlight spokesman Phil Arst has filed a complaint with the
Newport Beach Police Department. He said he plans to take legal
action through the district attorney’s office.
“Our name, Greenlight, was appropriated without our permission,
and Winship was declared to be our candidate, which was false,” Arst
Election authorities have said it is unclear which rules or laws
the message may violate, if any.
* JUNE CASAGRANDE covers Newport Beach and John Wayne Airport.
She may be reached at (949) 574-4232 or by e-mail at