A Huntington Beach resident running for Assembly said a pair of campaign press releases that attacked another candidate for dropping out of the race were sent without his approval.
Travis Allen, one of five candidates in the race for the newly aligned 72 District, attributed the March 9 and 10 emails to "an anxious campaign volunteer," who issued the statements without authorization.
The releases, which feature the tag "Approved by Travis Allen for Assembly" at the bottom, strongly criticize Huntington Beach Councilman Matthew Harper for dropping out of the Assembly race before the deadline to file papers.
Harper, who ran a high-profile campaign for several months, announced March 9 that he had opted out of the race.
The first release calls Harper's move "a slap in the face" to Huntington residents, while the second calls it a "shocking decision" and praises Allen for putting his own name on the ballot.
"Not only do Matt Harper's actions raise questions about moral turpitude, but also his off-putting decision has put the future of Huntington Beach in direct jeopardy," the first release reads.
In the wake of the comments appearing in the media, Allen said he had personally made amends with Harper. Both men are Republicans.
"We've had multiple conversations, and I said, 'Look, I will do what I can to make people know we are good friends,'" Allen said.
The releases were emailed by Jed Wallace of the communications firm Street Relations Inc., whose name and contact information appear at the bottom of the news releases.
Reached Monday, Wallace said he did not write the remarks about Harper and only edited the messages for spelling and grammar. He added that he had gotten the information from a campaign team member but not directly from Allen.
"Our role in this was simply to send it out to an email list," Wallace said. "We did not write the statements."
The emails went out to 25 to 50 media outlets, according to Wallace. The Huntington Beach Independent received the release as well.
Allen declined to identify the campaign team member who wrote the comments. He said, though, that he had spoken sternly with his team and reassigned some members' duties.
"You won't be seeing things like this in the future," Allen said.
A certified financial planner for Wealth Strategies Group in Costa Mesa, the 38-year-old Allen entered the race shortly before deadline when he heard that Harper planned to step down.
As of Monday, his campaign website was still unfinished, but he had already gotten one endorsement — from Huntington Councilman Joe Carchio, who praised his energy and charisma.
Harper, meanwhile, has endorsed Los Alamitos Mayor Troy Edgar for the 72nd District.
He said Monday, though, that he and Allen had cleared up any ill feelings and noted that gaffes sometimes occurred among campaign teams.
"I see that this is less directly from him and more something from someone just getting a campaign off the ground," Harper said.