Hours after Councilmember José Huizar fired a member of his campaign staff yesterday for sending an offensive e-mail that referred to Eagle Rock businessman Rudy Martinez as a “dead rat” and called for a “political bullet” to be put in his head, Martinez lodged a “criminal threat” complaint with the LAPD and criticized Huizar for not acting faster in sacking his campaign consultant.
Martinez, who is running against Huizar in the March 8 City Council election in District 14, filed the complaint at the LAPD Northeast Division headquarters on Sunday afternoon (see pdf copy of the complaint in the photo section). In his complaint, which is under investigation by the LAPD, Martinez said he received a “threatening” e-mail from Michael Trujillo, who by then had been fired by Huizar for what the councilmember said were “inappropriate, disrespectful and offensive” remarks.
"I became aware of Mr. Trujillo’s email this morning and immediately terminated his relationship with our campaign,” Huizar said, according to an e-mail sent to Eagle Rock Patch by a member of Huizar’s city council staff. “On behalf of the campaign, I apologize to Mr. Martinez for this breach," Huizar added.
Trujillo sent the e-mail last Friday directly to 23 people (five others were cc’d), including several City Council District 14 employees. (See the pdf in the photos section for details.)
The e-mail, titled “So Rudy Wants to Fight—Please Open,” began: “Team, (Please excuse the bravado of my language). In the book of Luke the Bible says, 'If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also.' As a good Christian, I believe we have run out of cheeks and to be clear there are no more coats to hand Rudy.”
Then the e-mail suddenly gets “offensive,” as Huizar acknowledged, if not arguably vicious: “We are going to unleash the dogs of Satan on Rudy and he is going to wish he never heard the words ‘team Huizar’ … We are about to put a political bullet in between Rudy Martinez’s forehead … .”
The e-mail went on to ask “everyone to be prepared for a press conference Monday morning in front of the new LAPD HQ” and look out for a story in the Los Angeles Times. After the Times story appears, continues the e-mail, “I am going to e-mail you guys a confidential internal LAPD report on Rudy Martinez that I want you to send everywhere. … Once you have it—get it to everyone—hell even e-mail Rudy himself. … This is a game-changer.”
This morning, Huizar’s campaign canceled the news conference outside the LAPD headquarters on 100 W. First St. downtown. The conference was aimed at calling attention to the latest among a string of campaign-related controversies that have dogged both Martinez and Huizar over the past few weeks: The fact that Martinez possessed an LAPD badge while he was a volunteer reserve with the police force until 2004. According to the “confidential internal LAPD report” that Trujillo apparently referred to in his e-mail, the LAPD “alleges that from an unknown date to Aug. 18, 2004, Specialist Reserve Officer Martinez, while off duty, possessed a police officer badge he was not entitled to have.”
Huizar’s apology comes a little more than 48 hours before the incumbent for the District 14 seat in the City Council and his challenger are scheduled to answer questions at a 90-minute candidates forum—the third in District 14 so far—hosted by the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council at the Center for the Arts, Eagle Rock, tomorrow at 7 p.m.
The Martinez campaign castigated Huizar for not acting fast enough to respond to Trujillo’s e-mail, a copy of which Martinez received through a confidential source, according to Martinez's campaign spokesman George Gonzalez.
“For three long days Mr. Huizar and his entire council staff who received this e-mail said or did nothing to denounce these comments and threats against Mr. Martinez,” said Eric Hacopian, a campaign consultant for Martinez. “Most importantly, Mr. Huizar made no attempt to proactively turn this matter over to law enforcement. In our current a political environment in which a Congresswoman [Gabrielle Giffords] was recently shot [in Tucson, AZ] his silence borders on the criminal."
In a separate statement, Martinez appealed to Huizar to end what he described as his “hate-filled campaign of personal destruction” and focus on “a constructive debate” aimed at making “our communities and our city a better place to live.”
By all accounts, many constituents in the District 14 race are expecting that debate to start tomorrow at the candidates forum at the Center for the Arts, Eagle Rock, where not an empty chair is likely to be seen.