He's probably not breaking any laws with this, but it is sure slimy; especially the flyer for Democrats that looks like an official Democratic Party slate card (which I am still waiting to receive).
If you look very closely, you will see that candidates Gavin Newsom, Alberto Torrico, and Dave Jones paid for his endorsement at the statewide level, and John Creighton paid for the endorsement as Superior Court Judge locally. And of the propositions, PG&E and Mercury Insurance paid for Levine's endorsements of Propositions 16 and 17.
How does that compare to the Democratic Party endorsements? The only overlap is that Dave Jones got the party's endorsement. (I'm disappointed in Jones for participating!) All other races either didn't have party endorsements, or are the opposite of the Democratic Party endorsement.
It's really a shame that thousands of voters around California are probably going to actually look at, and use this flyer in making their judgments.
(And check out this for a laugh: There's a "No on Prop 14" blurb on the flyer, which does correspond to the Democratic Party endorsement. On the flyer targeted to Democrats, it has a quotation attributed to California Democratic Party chair John Burton. (This makes the flyer seem legitimate, right?) On the flyer targeted to Independents, it has the same quotation, except that it substitutes "Independent voters" for "Democrats," but this time It's attributed to Allan Clark, President of the California School Employees Association. Hmmmm.)
At least it's nice to see that this flyer is getting some attention as being a scam. One blog post on Daily Kos uncovered it a several years ago; a concerned citizen has created a website www.VoterInformationGuide.org warning people who may have googled the flyer about its true origins. And just today, a SFWeekly blog post has a great headline: Gavin Newsom Pays For Endorsement in Bogus 'Voter Information Guide'.
It's important that the old-school, cigar-smoking, deal-making, money-grubbing political operatives are exposed.
It's no surprise that on his flyer, Levine recommends a NO vote on Proposition 15. He didn't need anybody to pay him for that position - Proposition 15 is the first step in putting the likes of him out of business.
Let's put him out of business.
(Cross-posted from A Progressive Alamedan)