November 4, 2008

Turlock council candidate says Prop. 8 calls not hers

A call claiming to come from Turlock City Council candidate Mary Jackson urging voters to reject the state proposition to ban gay marriage is a fraud, the candidate said Monday.

Jackson, a journalism instructor at Merced College, said the automated call urging a "no" vote on the emotionally charged Proposition 8 was not recorded or paid for by her campaign.

"Someone impersonated me. It's just utterly wrong," Jackson said. "The people of Turlock I think are really tired of these mean-spirited, negative campaign issues. ... I think it's going to scare good people for runnning for office."

On the call, a woman with an East Coast accent introduces herself as Jackson and says Turlock should support a "rich, vibrant community that includes everyone, irregardless of whom they choose to love."

Voters got the message Sunday.

"I knew immediately that the person claiming to be Mary Jackson was not her voice," said Judith Cain, 50, who once served on the Turlock City Arts Commission with Jackson. "I am appalled at both the use of direct impersonation and the manipulation of a divisive ballot measure as a means to stopping people from voting for Mary."

The message also gets Jackson's campaign committee wrong, claiming to be "paid for by the Friends of Mary Jackson." Jackson's fund raising is funneled through the Committee to Elect Mary Jackson.

These so-called "robocalls" are illegal in California unless a live person introduces the call and asks for permission to play the recorded message. But robocalls that come from call centers outside of California aren't subject to the rule.

Two other automated calls have been sent from dubious sources for or against candidates in the Turlock City Council race.

An automated phone message claiming to be paid for by San Juan Capistrano-based Taxpayers for Safer Neighborhoods accused Jackson of currying favor with special interests. The group denied funding the call.

A second automated call "paid for by Taxpayers for Safe Neighborhoods," which is not registered on the California secretary of state's Web site, backed candidates Amy Bublak and incumbent Kurt Vander Weide.

Bee staff writer Merrill Balassone can be reached at mbalassone@modbee.com or 578-2337.

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