Commentary: Democracy Distorted by the Brady Cops
From Issue: Volume XXII - Number 7
By Stephen Downing
In an era where voter trust is a precious commodity there is no graver threat to our democracy than the cynical manipulation of the electorate.
To see the strings of that deceptive manipulation in the hands of police officers who represent the police department’s rank and file makes the gravity of their devious design to contravene the will of the people even that much greater.
These pages have documented (CLICK HERE TO SEE PRIOR COMMENTARY) the Long Beach Police Officer Association’s well-financed campaign of deception beginning with a letter to the electorate from the LBPOA president, Lieutenant Steve James, making the fraudulent claim that Charles Parkin has a history as a crime fighter who will keep us safe.
This sham was followed by exposure of two members of the LBPOA board illegally – and separately – posing in uniform in front of a city police car with city attorney candidate Charles Parkin and council district three candidate Suzie Price. The illegal photos were then inappropriately and unapologetically used in Parkin and Price campaign mailers.
In the print edition of the Beachcomber we define for our readers what it means when a police officer becomes a Brady Cop because of fraudulent and illegal behavior and outlines why these officers can never again testify in court without their integrity being questioned – and how the status of becoming a Brady Cop makes the LBPOA leaders useless to the LBPD as employees.
This past weekend the LBPOA’s pattern of campaign deception struck once again when the electorate received another round of mailers.
This one is called the slate mailer.
In the world of unethical and morally repugnant campaign strategy the slate mailer is the most deceptive and dishonest of the tools available to the unscrupulous campaign scammer.
The primary deception in this round of slate mailers sent to the Long Beach Electorate is found in the header.
Registered Republicans are led to believe the candidates advertised represent a republican ticket because the header reads: “Republican Voter Guide.” Democrats get the exact same mailer except the header advertises it as a “Democratic Voter Guide.” And the one labeled “Independent Voter Guide” goes to independents and mixed registration households.
Thus, the motive of those who purchase space on these mailers is to dupe the recipient who is apt to identify with the candidates based on party. The obfuscated truth – some of it – is found in the small print.
The slate mailers we received this past weekend advertised eight candidates running for a city office and three for various Community College Districts.
Two of the candidates for city office, Bonnie Lowenthal and Doug Haubert paid for their position on the Slate Mailer, and properly had the legally required (*) asterisk placed next to their names, denoting that payment, as required by law. Technically, they are within the law – the moral question of choosing this means of promoting their candidacy remains theirs to answer and the electorate to consider.
Five of the candidates for city office, Charles Parkin, Suzie Price, Carl Kemp, Roberto Uranga and Rex Richardson – all endorsed by the LBPOA – also had an (*) next to their names. But they did not pay a cent for their position on each of the three deceptive mailers. So, technically, they are in violation of the law. However, they enjoy a favorite CIA cop out we call plausible deniability, because the LBPOA Political Action Committee (PAC) paid for their placement on the slate mailer.
So, when the candidates began getting questions about their association with a political party, to which they do not belong, they plead ignorance of the advertising placement. “I had no idea I was even being included in the mailer.“ “I didn’t pay for it.” “You can check my financial report on the city clerk’s website.“ These were the anguished cries of denial.
Or was it their use of plausible deniability?
The police union, having formed a PAC for their dirty work, used their stand-by cop out and asserted that by law they cannot speak with the candidates they endorse about what they are doing, therefore the candidates were not informed. Pftttt!
When asked about the violation of law that occurred by inclusion of the (*) asterisk next to the candidates names they endorsed and paid for, their president, Lieutenant Steve James, told the Long Beach Register that it was an error, as he did not see a proof of the mailer before it was sent to the printer – or the voters. Pfttt!
Lieutenant James wasn’t asked about the illegal text in the mailer that promotes Charles Parkin as an incumbent rather than an appointee to his current office. We can only assume that James would tell us that this too was an error.
We note in their expenditure reports filed with the city clerk that the LBPOA has paid for two additional slate mailers advertising the candidacies of Charles Parkin and Suzie Price that are yet to arrive in our mailboxes. One will carry the header, “CA Law Enforcement Voter Guide” and the other, “Citizens for Good Government.”
Both are legal. Both are unethical. Both are calculated to deceive the electorate.
The arrogance of power, the sense of entitlement and the protective “good ol’ boy” atmosphere at City Hall will thrive until the electorate decides that it should not.
April 8, will tell the first part of that story.
Stephen Downing is a Long Beach resident and a retired deputy chief of police with the Los Angeles Police Department.