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Concerns raised over recent campaign mailer

Critics say document is misleading; company says it’s rethinking name

Posted: October 25, 2013 9:39 a.m.
Updated: October 25, 2013 9:39 a.m.

This logo for the "Parent Teacher Action Voter Guide" appeared on a mailer that was recently sent out to people in the Santa Clarita Valley.

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An outcry over a campaign mailing with a logo that resembled the Parent Teacher Association’s logo has a nonpartisan political group rethinking its identity.

The group, Liberty Campaign Solutions LLC, put out a slate mailer called the “Parent Teacher Action Voter Guide” that was recently sent to homes in the Santa Clarita Valley.

That mailer was later criticized by some for its design because the front features a prominent logo with the letters “PTA.” Critics say the mailer misleads viewers to believe it was from the Parent Teacher Association.


A man who answered the contact phone number listed for Liberty, but who declined to give his name, said Thursday its Web page detailing the mailer had been taken down to avoid that kind of confusion.

“I think one of the problems that people had with the Parent Teacher Action Voter Guide was that the logo looked similar to the PTA’s logo,” he said. “And just to let you know, the site is down and most likely the name will be changed because the purpose is not to go up against the PTA.”

The man also noted the mailer states that it is not a product of the National Parent Teacher Association.

The mailer claims to have been sent out by “a non-partisan, public advocacy organization made up of parents, educators, policy makers and students,” but according to both the representative from Liberty and the mailer, that organization has zero members.

Sue Solomon, president of the Santa Clarita Valley Council PTA and a member of the Newhall School District board, said she reported the mailer to the state PTA after becoming aware of it.

“My thought was that the company needed to be held accountable and that’s why I reported it to the PTA,” she said Thursday. “That’s their logo they pretty much copied for this.”

Solomon said she had not heard concerns from leadership in local PTA groups regarding the mailer.

Local candidates

The mailer featured pictures and statements from some of the local school board candidates running for re-election in November: Doug Bryce, Paul De La Cerda and Judy Umeck in the Saugus Union School District and Phil Ellis and Brian Walters in the Newhall district.

To be added to the mailer, the representative from Liberty said, candidates typically had to pay a fee and pledge to “support quality education and safe schools.”

Bryce said it cost around $800 to have his name on the mailer and that he decided to do so because it presented a low-cost way to reach out to voters.

“We got a small piece of information out to the voters and that’s what we were looking to do,” he said Thursday.

But after seeing the mailer, Bryce said he was bothered that people might take it the wrong way.

“It wasn’t meant to look like a PTA mailer and none of us intended to try and fool people in any way,” Bryce said. “And if people did get upset, I am definitely sorry about that.”

“With the relationships I have with numerous parent leaders, my record on the board and the community endorsements I received, deceiving anyone never, ever crossed my mind,” Umeck said, adding that she had passed the mailer on to Solomon after seeing it.

De La Cerda echoed those sentiments and said he signed on for the mailer to try to increase voter awareness.

“Everyone, including me, was focusing on ‘How can I help get out the vote, how can I encourage people to learn more about me as a candidate, and how can I reach voters?’” he said. “That’s my job as a candidate, and I take it very seriously.”

Ellis said Thursday he did not think anyone would mistakenly believe the mailer came from the actual PTA.
“I am a little taken aback that people would think the people campaigning would try and delude them deliberately,” he said.
On Twitter @LukeMMoney


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