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Update with comments from the Lincoln Club President and links to prior concerns raised about the PAC by the FPPC.

By Miriam Raftery

November 3, 2016 (La Mesa) — A hit piece mailer on La Mesa City Council Colin Parent has been sent by a shadowy political action group tied to his opponent.

The mailer deceptively states Parent moved to La Mesa only to run for Council and mentions he’s lived in Sacramento and San Diego.  It fails to mention his long and deep ties to East County.  Parent went to Fuerte Elementary School near Mt. Helix, had his first job on La Mesa Blvd. with the East County Development Council, grew up going to local La Mesa hang-outs such as the Aquarius roller rink, was active in Boy Scots and graduated from Valhalla High School in the Grossmont Union High School District before attending UC San Diego and later, getting a law degree in New York.

The flyer also faults Parent for receiving funds from out of town donors including developers.  While it’s true he has significant donations from acquaintances, family and business interests in Sacramento and San Diego where he has lived and worked, including affordable housing builders as well as politicians (some of whom he has worked or interned for), the flyer fails to mention that he has also received significant donations from environmental organizations and is the attorney for Circulate San Diego, a group promoting transit and sustainable futures to address climate change.

As for a line about “taxing La Mesans” to pay for San Diego improvements, this is also deceptive. Parent has proposed no new taxes for the city of La Mesa, but does support a countywide ballot proposition that increase sales taxes a half-cent countywide to fund new transit and roadway improvements. 

The mailer was sent by “Voters for Progress and Reform,” a group that Citybeat has reported in 2013 was tied to the Lincoln Club, which endorsed Kristine Alessio, Parent’s opponent.  Voters for Progress and Reform has previously been in hot water with the FPPC for deceptive mailers and not disclosing its backers—mailers targeting opponents of candidates backed by the Lincoln Club.

A warning letter sent by the Fair Political Practices Commission  in December 2014 to the San Diego County Voters for Progress and Reform advised that the group violated the  Political Reform Act by failing to identify T.J. Zane as a principal officer. Zane was also president of the Lincoln Club at that time and from 2006 to 2014, according to his biography on the San Diego Republican Party website.  

However Brian Pepin, current president of the Lincoln Club, told  ECM that he is “completely unaware of the group and I have never heard of them before.”

Alessio, in an online community forum, denied ties to the mailer. She wrote, “For the record.  I never contributed to any attack pieces nor have I accepted or been offered any contributions from the Lincoln Club.  If you pull my campaign reports, you can see my donors are fellow La Mesans and me!”

But according to her latest campaign filing, Form 497, her campaign recently received almost $14,000 in an “in-kind” contribution from the Voters for Progress and Reform.

If the hit piece mailer was an independent expenditure campaign, legally it should have been just that—completely separate from Alessio’s campaign and done with no knowledge or consultation. So why did $14,000 suddenly appear as an in-kind donation on her disclosure form—meaning her campaign received something of value from Voters for Progress and Reform?

Perhaps the Fair Political Practices Commission should look into the shadowy organization behind the mailer and what exactly Alessio received of value from the organization.

While Parent has advocated for affordable housing which could mean limited denser development along transit lines, he has not been a supporter of sprawling development projects.  It’s worth noting that the Lincoln Club, a conservative pro-business group, typically favors developer-backed candidates. If Parent were really in the pocket of big developers, why wouldn’t the Lincoln Club have backed his candidacy instead of Alessio’s?

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Pleasantly surprised

Today I received one of those Political Mailers expecting more Hardball Politics
and beating up on one opponent or the other. I was very pleased to see that it wasn't. It was about the Candidate that sent it and why we should vote for them.

I think voters would like to see more of this instead of having the ones that denegrate or vilify the Candidates opponents. This is a relatively small town and I think it does more damage than it does good while only serving to drive us apart rather than pull us together as a community.

Thank You Kristine for mailing the positive mailing I saw today. Whether or not I vote for you I gained respect for you when I saw this.

Yes Craig, I know Kristine didn't run in 2013

I didn't say she ran. I said she was part of the effort, like you then and you now, that ultimately took the race into the gutter with this piece. Dear Neighbor: As proud Republicans serving on the La Mesa City Council, representing both the values of our party and our community, we’ve had the opportunity to fight for important policies and reforms that reduce the size and influence of local government. This November, we have a tremendous opportunity to build upon our success—but there’s also a risk we may end up with a Council that is antithetical to our beliefs. Most prominently, we’re attempting to end the 34-year reign of Mayor Art Madrid – a politician who has been neither a good Mayor nor a good Republican. In that spirit, we are proud to support Mark Arapostathis for Mayor, along with City Council candidates Bill Baber and Guy McWhirter. This ticket will bring a breath the new faces our Council so desperately need and will carry the Republican mantle for our great city. Please join us in supporting the reform ticket for La Mesa: Mark Arapostathis, Bill Baber, and Guy McWhirter. Thank you. Sincerely, Councilmember Councilmember Kristine Alessio Ernie Ewin

Also, this is not a recent

Also, this is not a recent disclosure. Kristine posted it on FB a few weeks ago.

Not desperate Gutter Politics?

So Craig, your making desperate and nasty accusations exactly four (4) days days BEFORE Election Day? You and Kristine sat on this all this time? For Months? And now you bring out something like this basically on Election Eve? How stupid do you two think people are???

Uh, Gene, she was joking

Uh, Gene, she was joking about her daughter. Furthermore, Colin started to follow her one week before he even declared his candidacy.

La Mesa Chamber of Congress Candidates Forum

So Craig, partner of Kristine Alessio, weren't you there at the Chamber Political Forum when Kristine made her closing remarks and then introduced your partners daughter who stood up before the audience and Kristine said,
"This is my Daughter who is also my Campaign Manager." Is that a fact or are you going to call that a fiction?

So if an opposing Candidate hears this is it unusual for opponents in a Campaign to follow on social media members of an opposing Campaign Team? If my memory serves me this very same daughter was thrown under the bus in 2013 by her mother regarding a questionable email that Christine said she got her daughters email confused with hers.

Kristine is the one who introduced her as part of her Campaign. If Colin followed her on Instagram what did he do exactly that would be considered
"Stalking"? Why haven't the Police been contacted if it is what you consider "Stalking" especially if such a haneous act has been committed? Why these last minute "gutter politics" tactics?

I suggest this is just a panicked ploy to make Colin look like something he is not while you and Christine once again use your "gutter politics" style like you did in 2013. All because you, who had no record of public service, hated Art with a compulsive passion when he defeated you for Mayor. Now you turn that very same compulsive behavior on Colin Parent who had the audacity to run against your partner.

This is Ansermio Estrada, Colin's campaign manager

Our campaign's Instagram account has followed more than 7,000 other accounts that are located in La Mesa or who have geo-tagged photos in the city. See for yourself: Insinuating anything otherwise is demonstrably false and deeply offensive. Voters should expect more than this kind of tawdry insinuation from a sitting councilmember and their faltering campaign.

Bad excuse, Ansermio,

Bad excuse, Ansermio, especially since this minor has a private account that only accessible by Google searching her name.
Like to try again or just apologize as you should.

You clearly don’t understand

You clearly don’t understand how the Instagram platform works as evidenced by the fact we have five times as many followers as your candidate. It’s incredible that your campaign is so worried about an embarrassing defeat that you would bring this kind of trash politics into La Mesa. Some professional advice: if you want your candidate to win, get out there and talk to voters and stop trolling on the internet.

I'm right here, Gene. C'mon

I'm right here, Gene. C'mon by some time and we'll show you when and where thirty-something Colin tried to stalk Kristine's 17 year old daughter on a private Instagram account. Talk about a creep.
(And yes, we have a screenshot.)


That's a powerful accusation. Stalking is a criminal offense. According to the National Center for Victims of Crime: "Unwanted contact between two people that directly or indirectly communicates a threat or places the victim in fear is considered stalking." If this is the case, charges should be filed. If not, probably more careful language would be in order.


Politics creates many "just can't make this stuff up" moments. And here we have the President of the prestigious Lincoln Club protesting that he has no idea who works in his offices. Will someone please advise the befuddled president that a covert political hit operation is claiming to share the same suite of offices as his organization on Navajo Road in San Carlos. As a backstairs outfit, maybe they only work at night?

Finally, an explanation

Thanks for this article. I had wondered who was behind the anonymous mailings attacking Mr. Parent. It is sad that even at the local level there is little transparency. Frankly, I would give such mailings credence if they were signed, even if it's by the opposing candidates.

What is the total money for each candidate?

Was it too much effort for the writer would list the actual and in-kind contributions to date and their sources for all the candidates so the readers can decide what is what?

Not surprised...

$14,000 says it all. This kind of monkey business does not bode well for Alessio, regardless of how many times she denies it. Regardless, my vote as already been cast. And while voting should be kept confidential, it's safe to admit, it's not for Alessio.