Tribe Launches Campaign Against L.A. City Council Candidate

The Morongo Band of Mission Indians, which spent $200,000 worth of radio ads opposing Antonio Villaraigosa in the city's 2001 mayoral race, is now launching a $75,000 mailer campaign in hopes that the former Assembly speaker will be denied a City Council seat.

The tribe, which runs a casino near Banning, announced its expenditures in a report filed Wednesday to the city Ethics Commission -- a week before the elections take place.

The tribe sent out mailers Wednesday, claiming that Villaraigosa voted "dozens of times against laws that would make our community safe" while he was a state legislator. The flier mentions a vote Villaraigosa cast against a 1995 bill to keep mentally disturbed sexual offenders locked up after they have served their sentences.

"The outside gambling interests attacking Antonio have taken one vote out of more than 10,000 and misrepresented his excellent record as a crime fighter," said Villaraigosa's campaign consultant Steve Barkan.

Villaraigosa, who lost the 2001 mayoral election to James Hahn, drew opposition from Indian tribes after he helped push through a pact that regulated the use of Las Vegas-style slot machines on reservations five years ago.

Tribe spokesman Waltona Manion said leaders wanted the mailer campaign for safety reasons for the more than 1,000 Native Americans who live in the district where Villaraigosa seeks to represent.

"Morongo wanted to ensure that their tribal friends in Los Angeles have a chance to see Mr. Villaraigosa's record," Manion said.

Villaraigosa is running against incumbent Councilman Nick Pacheco.