Not for Hahn After All

Six prominent members of the Jewish community have sent a letter of protest to Mayor Jim Hahn, claiming Hahn’s re-election campaign used their names in endorsement advertisements without their permission.

The ad, titled “Our community leaders agree! Re-elect Mayor Jim Hahn,” ran in both the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles and The Jewish News. The Jewish Journal ad appears in this week’s paper. The letter of protest addresses Hahn directly, stating that, “In your first campaign for mayor, some of us did support you.[But] that was three years ago, and there was no follow-up call to re-solicit support for your current campaign.”

In response, Hahn campaign advisor Kam Kuwata provided the Journal with six undated signed statements by the same individuals giving the “Jim Hahn for Mayor 2005” campaign permission to use their names in endorsement lists of “Jewish community leaders for Hahn.”

The six who signed the letter are Rabbi Steven Weil, Dr. Irving Lebovics, Rabbi Avraham M. Weiner, Aaron B. Litenansky, and Walter Feinblum.

Kuwata said he could not say precisely when the forms were signed, only that it was after Hahn was first elected mayor in 2001. The form is on letterhead that specifies 2005 as the campaign in question. But Kuwata acknowledged some ambiguity on the issue, noting that the letters were obtained by Joe Klein, a Hahn supporter who has since died. Kuwata said he did not know when the letters were obtained. “In all candor, it’s a very difficult thing to trace,” said Kuwata.

“Some people date [endorsement permissions], some people do not,” Kuwata said. “It’s on the letterhead of ‘Hahn for Mayor 2005’ and I presume that everybody who signs that looks at what they’re signing.”

Kuwata said the endorsements could date back three years, which would be after Hahn was first elected, but before other candidates entered the campaign against Hahn. These challengers include two former state Assembly speakers-Bob Hertzberg, who is Jewish, and Antonio Villaraigosa, who has a history of drawing strong support among Jewish liberals. Three years ago would also pre-date the surfacing of corruption allegations against the Hahn administration.

The individuals who wrote the letter of protest implied that so much time had passed that Hahn’s campaign should have gone to the trouble of a follow-up communication to ensure their support had continued.

Kuwata disagreed: “If I give you permission to do X, you don’t ask me, ‘Do I still have your permission? Do I still have your permission?’ We don’t continually [do that].” He said that if they wanted their names removed, they could have called and requested it at any time.

Of the six, only Rabbi Avraham Weiner’s permission form included the caveat that he be contacted prior to the Hahn campaign’s use of his name.

The letter to Hahn ends with a request to remove the signers’ names from future advertisements. Kuwata confirmed that the Hahn campaign would be “happy” to comply.