A local activist who sent mailers attacking two city council candidates during the election apologized to the San Clemente Chamber of Commerce Friday for false statements contained in them.
Charles Mann’s political action committee sent out mailers in October attacking two candidates and their ties to the chamber. Today, three days after the candidates were defeated in the election, Mann issued an official apology for the misleading mailers.
The Chamber demanded an apology Monday from Charles Mann's political action committee set up to attack two city council candidates.
"I hereby acknowledge that the statements regarding the San Clemente Chamber of Commerce in two political advertisements that Watchdog distributed are false," Mann said in a letter to the Chamber. "I apologize to the Chamber, its members and its directors for any suggestion that anyone associated with the Chamber had engaged in any misconduct."
The PAC, called Watchdog for San Clemente Responsible Government -- a Committee Formed to Oppose Jim Dahl and Mike Mortenson for City Council 2012, attacked. Jim Dahl and Mike Mortenson. Ultimately, both candidates lost the election.
The Chamber accused Mann and his wife Jeri Mann's PAC of deliberately accusing the organization of illegal activity in two mailers sent out last week.
"PAC spent $4,000 on [Mortenson's] campaign. SC Taxpayers funded it," reads one of the mailers.
"By stating that 'SC Taxpayers funded it,' Defendants... knowingly and intentionally accused the Chamber of engaging in criminal activity, which Defendants know is not true," reads the draft lawsuit, which attorneys threatened to file if the Manns didn't release an immediate statement apologizing to the chamber and recanting the accusations in the mailers.
"Moreover, when Defendants allege that the Chamber has engaged in criminal activities, Defendants also, at least implicitly, allege that the Chamber's board members, and their associated businesses, are at least complicit with this conduct. Defendants know this is not true, but simply do not care," the lawsuit states.
The mailers also state Jim Dahl voted to give the chamber $400,000 from the city and that the Chamber-associated PAC spent $23,000 on his campaign.
"That's a kickback," reads the letter.
The Chamber’s draft lawsuit calls this another example of defamation. The city contracts with the organization for printed materials and certain services, and the Chamber-associated PAC is funded by private donations from its members, not tax money.
"This lie that any public funds went to the Chamber's PAC is even more troubling because at no time has any public funds been given to the PAC," the suit states. "Defendants just made this up, once again, to advance their own political agenda, regardless of the harm it has caused the Chamber."