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D.A. reviewing phony messages

June Casagrande

The district attorney’s office is reviewing a complaint filed by

the Greenlight Committee against campaign consultant Dave Ellis and

his client Councilman Gary Adams based on a fraudulent campaign

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telephone message that was circulated during the last City Council

election.

A spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office confirmed that

they had received the complaint and that they were reviewing it, but

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would not comment further.

The complaint pertains to a recorded campaign message received by

some voters during the November race. The message described candidate

Ron Winship as the Greenlight candidate in District 4. But Winship

was not affiliated with or endorsed by the Greenlight Committee,

which supported Rick Taylor in that district.

A Greenlight spokesman has said he believes the message was

designed to confuse Greenlight supporters into voting for Winship,

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thereby giving an advantage to Adams, Ellis’ client in that race.

Ellis later admitted that he had created the phony message as a

possible weapon to support Adams’ campaign, but that he never

authorized sending it out. He said it must have been by accident that

residents received the phone message.

Adams has said he knew nothing about the message.

Neither Ellis nor Adams could be reached for comment Thursday

afternoon.

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Though the message likely did not affect the outcome of the

District 4 race -- Winship’s votes added to Taylor’s still would not

have beaten Adams’ -- Greenlight spokesman Phil Arst said that such

tactics hurt everyone.

“We want to prevent this kind of deceptive and possibly fraudulent

action in future elections,” Arst said. “It’s happened twice now, and

we want to put the City Council on notice that we have are concerned

about deceitful campaigning.”

A similar situation occurred in the 2000 race between Greenlight

candidate Patricia Beek and now-Mayor Steve Bromberg. In that race, a

phony phone message described third candidate Robert Schoonmaker as

endorsed by Greenlight. Schoonmaker has said he had nothing to do

with that message.

The message also alleged that Beek was involved in secret meetings

with the Irvine Co., an allegation Beek has denied. Dave Ellis

performed some paid campaign services for Bromberg in that election.

* JUNE CASAGRANDE covers Newport Beach and John Wayne Airport.

She may be reached at (949) 574-4232 or by e-mail at

june.casagrande@latimes.com.


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