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Cedillo goes strong negative...on Emanuel Pleitez

by: Dante Atkins

Wed May 06, 2009 at 15:45:11 PM PDT

(This story has now been covered by The Hill. We have also posted a comment from the Pleitez campaign. Welcome to all the new readers! - promoted by Brian Leubitz)

(full disclosure: I serve as the the Political Director of the Los Angeles County Young Democrats, which overwhelmingly endorsed Gil Cedillo for the CA-32 Congressional seat.  In what follows, as well as anything else I write or have ever written about this race or any other issue, the opinions written here are strictly my own personal views, and do not reflect the official views of any organization I am involved with in any official capacity.)

The CA-32 race is getting personal.  Gil Cedillo's campaign has already gotten some criticism for the use of unrelated headlines in a mailer against Judy Chu, and now Cedillo has gone negative against the other candidate in the race with a shot at viability: Emanuel Pleitez, the 26-year-old former employee of the Obama-Biden Treasury Department transition team.

Now before I continue with the mailer itself, which is the heart of this story, I should first point out the initial implications that I perceive about Cedillo's campaign going negative on Pleitez: by my view, it's not a good sign for the campaign.  If the campaign is spending money, energy and political capital in attacking someone who was supposed to be a minor candidate and who has raised about a quarter of the money that Cedillo's campaign has, it would indicate that Cedillo's team is afraid that Pleitez is drawing a larger share than expected of the demographic that Cedillo would need to beat Judy Chu, and I don't view it as a positive sign for Cedillo's campaign that it's having to use negative mailers to shore up its other flank.

But let's get to the mailer itself, which you can see front and back at these links:

Edit by Brian for space...see the flip.

Dante Atkins :: Cedillo goes strong negative...on Emanuel Pleitez
link one
link two
link three
link four

The basic point the campaign is trying to make, of course, is that Emanuel is too wild and immature to run for Congress.  And Cedillo has a strong case to make based on his maturity and his extensive experience as a legislator.  And yes, there are a few wild photos from the bunch that the campaign selected.  But I'll bet a lot of those are innocuous photos that were taken out of context.  For instance, a lot of the pictures on there are shots of Pleitez with various women, often not even in a party setting--obviously designed to convey the impression that Pleitez is a womanizer.

Well, here's the problem.  I'm one of the least rowdy 26-year-olds I know.  And yet, if someone wanted to troll through the photos of me on Facebook to portray me as an immature womanizer party animal, it would certainly be possible.  I've been in a committed relationship for a 2 1/2 years now.  But still, there's a picture there of me with one of my blogger friends, who happens to be a female my age.  There's also one of me with a friend whom I've known since my freshman year of college when we were in UCLA's Regents Scholar Society--also an attractive woman my age.  And yet, if you wanted to take those and other pictures out of context and claim that you're "missing a lot of women" if you haven't seen my Facebook page...well, I guess nothing prevents you--outside of a sense of honesty or decency, both of which seem to be missing in this case.  I imagine that a lot of this site's readers are my friends on Facebook.  Why not have a blast and put together an attack mailer against me?

The text of the mailer is also relatively amusing--"even nerdy guys want to look cool"?  The hilarity of that is only exceeded by the Spanish translation of "nerdy": socialmente ineptos.

I don't know what Gil Cedillo was doing for entertainment when he was in his mid-twenties.  But what I do know is that whatever it was, it wasn't documented through the use of digital cameras and social networking.  At the risk of sounding like Thomas Friedman, I was just talking with one of my students a couple of days ago about what impact social media would have on future elections from the "scandal" perspective--i.e., what if there were photos of any presidential candidate's youthful indiscretions on Facebook?  It's one thing to hear tell of it--it's quite another to see the actual physical evidence.  And I suppose that question has been answered just a few days later.  And if you're a young person contemplating a run for office, it should send just a little bit of a shiver down your spine.  Your elder opponents' actions at your age--even if they're just five or ten years older--aren't a matter of public record.  But in the age of Facebook and Myspace, yours are--and no matter how innocent you may think your photos are, you need to think about the worst possible way they could be used against you--because that's probably what's going to happen.

Bottom line: the fact that Gil Cedillo's campaign feels the need to use social media to commit character assassination on a lesser-known opponent is disheartening.  Gil Cedillo is a strong progressive legislator with a long career track record.  His campaign team consists of people I know who are dedicated to progressive causes.  And the negative mailers sent on the campaign's behalf are, in my view, not worthy of Senator Cedillo or his campaign leaders.  This is really a low blow, and smacks of desperation to have to resort to this.

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i don't care what your track record is (6.00 / 3)
someone willing to use that repulsive a line of attack on a young candidate is not progressive.

Yeah, politics is a hardscrabble business.  But this is WAY beyond the pale.

And I would urge any Young Democrats constituencies out there to rethink their endorsements.  This sort of politicking should be punished in a big way.

I think that the diary misses some of the subtext (5.00 / 3)
Yes, for someone in my age bracket (50-ish), this would probably be somewhat shocking, and yes, younger people are less likely to vote in a special election than older folks.

However, three things jumped out at me among all of the two-shots of Pleitez with pretty young women: (1) signs of gang affiliation, (2) the big photo with lots of Black women in the foreground, and (3) the relative absence of Latinas from the photos.

"Gang affiliation" is mentioned specifically in the ad, so it's not entirely subtext, but I think that it's a bigger deal visually than in the text.  There are two photos that they didn't have to use -- one with Pleitez flashing gang signs and one wearing a do-rag or bandana -- that will evoke an emotional reaction that this guy is associated with gangs.  Now I know that young people with no gang involvement flash gang signs in photos all the time -- in fact, I've used the phenomenon to explain the concept of "white skin privilege" to my brown immigrant stepdaughters -- but for people who don't know this, his flashing those signs, especially juxtaposed against his wearing headgear associated with gang membership, is shocking.  Cedillo is careful to make this merely about his "judgment" rather than alleging gang membership, but the photos tell a different story.  Unless Cedillo was willing to allege gang membership -- and he had no basis to do so -- he should not have used the inflammatory photos.

More serious, in my view, is his use of a photo with lots of Black women featured prominently in the foreground.  It's not even a good photo of Pleitez, who is deep in the background; on its merits it could have easily been skipped (or at least cropped.)  But instead it is given prominent size and placement.  Why?  I find it hard to see Cedillo's making this association as anything other than an appeal to anti-Black animus in the Latino community, especially among older voters who are more likely to turn out.

Now, maybe Cedillo and his messaging consultant are pure of heart in these matters; if so, they are also dumb as rocks for not seeing how this would inevitably be taken.  I'd prefer someone who isn't going to pull this sort of thing to get elected.  (Has Judy Chu done anything like this?)

I'd like to see someone ask Cedillo why he thinks that Pleitez's having posed for a photo with a bunch of Black women is a specific reason for voters to oppose him.  (If this photo didn't add to the story, why include it?)

Looking over the photos -- and thinking of Latina voters -- I'm struck by how many of the women are white.  The message here is that Pleitez doesn't hang with Latinas.  So, I offer a question: are these photos representative of what one would find on his page, or does this flyer cut out most of his shots with Latinas?  If the latter, I'd like to see Cedillo justify the implicit charge that Pleitez messes around (sexually or socially) with white women rather than his "own kind."

If this seems harsh -- well, the flyer invites this sort of criticism.

[ Parent ]
Wow (5.00 / 1)
This flyer really objectifies women. Since when is "lots of women" a bad thing?  

[ Parent ]
Check to Chu (0.00 / 0)
All i can say is i'm writing a check to Judy Chu...  And scrutinizing my Facebook pictures...

[ Parent ]
Cedillo is done (5.00 / 2)
you don't put out two hard negative mailers if you're not worried.  

Out of touch (5.60 / 5)
Just goes to show how out of touch Cedillo is with the Millennial Generation, that "gang" sign Emanuel and Actress Rosario Dawson are showing is actually the sign for Voto Latino one of the organizations that Emanuel and I both support. Voto Latino is a Latino youth geared non-profit that registers Latino/a constituencies and gets them out to vote. I guess that's not an issue for Cedillo or else he might have thought twice about this silly mailer. Shame on him.  

This is a very important point (0.00 / 0)
Voto Latino did some great work. It's pretty funny that Cedillo didn't even notice that he was putting a picture of a major film star with Pleitez on an attack mailer.

I think?

[ Parent ]
oh that Voto Latino?? (0.00 / 0)
oh, you mean the same Voto Latino that was hacked into in order to illegally solicit campaign contributions for Pleitez?? hmmm....
Way to go EP...you could get your org's 501 c 4 status revoked for a stupid move like that

[ Parent ]
That's a pretty aggressive accusation (0.00 / 0)
You need to back that up with documentation or retract.

[ Parent ]
Here you go: (0.00 / 0)
Voto Latino would like to apologize to our thousands of supporters who received a fundraiser email from Emanuel Pleitez for Congress. Today, our Facebook integrity was violated when an outside party obtained access to the Voto Latino account. As a non-partisan, non-profit civic engagement organization, we take this matter very seriously and would like to make it clear in no uncertain terms that Voto Latino does not endorse political candidates. We do not endorse any candidates and did not send out the message that many of you received today.

We apologies again. Thank you for your understanding.

-Voto Latino


[ Parent ]
I'm trying to understand something (0.00 / 0)
are you implying by that that it's okay for Cedillo to have implied that the Voto Latino symbol is a gang sign?  Seems like you've done everything here besides address the actual issue.

[ Parent ]
INVALID (0.00 / 0)
what? how did you draw that conclusion from what I posted?? that's a ridiculous accusation of my post.

First of all, you don't know that Gil's Campaign is aware that Voto Latino had a "sign"...or at I wasn't aware.  Secondly, you incorrectly deduce that my pointing out of the fact that Voto Latino was hacked into by the Pleitez Campaign means that it's ok for Gil to imply that this symbol is a "gang sign." INVALID accusation

You guys are the ones posting comments that logically don't make any sense.  You are the ones trying to portray Gil as low and desperate...I simply wanted to point out that EP (or his staff at least) isn't the angel that everyone makes him seem to be...In my opinion, he has his OWN political agenda, but that's just my opinion...

[ Parent ]
dude, it's got nothing to do with that (0.00 / 0)
it was Gil's campaign that sent a mailer including a pic of Pleitez with Rosario Dawson flashing the Voto Latino symbol as evidence of Pleitez' "womanizing" and "flashing gang signs."

Whether or not Pleitez' people hacked into Voto Latino's FB page is irrelevant to that discussion.

So at this point, logically, you've got two options.  Either Gil's campaign was aware that, yes, the picture was of Rosario Dawson and the Voto Latino symbol, in which case it was dishonest, or they didn't know, in which case it was a very ignorant mistake to include that photo.

The campaign is not coming off smelling like roses either way.  And talking about whatever Pleitez' people did to Voto Latino is a complete non-sequitur.

If you want to talk about how Pleitez is no angel, well, that's fine.  You can do that wherever you like, and provide whatever evidence you like.  I never said he was.  But if you're going to argue about the Dawson/VL pic, you need to stick to the subject.

[ Parent ]
Exactly (0.00 / 0)
Exactly, I don't know who Young Demo 84 is but he/she is completely off the point.  

[ Parent ]
OK (0.00 / 0)
"it was Gil's campaign that sent a mailer including a pic of Pleitez with Rosario Dawson flashing the Voto Latino symbol as evidence of Pleitez' "womanizing" and 'flashing gang signs.' "...ok, whatever; the intent of my posting about Voto Latino still had nothing to do with this.  Again, i simply wanted to point out a fact, something that happened in reference to Voto Latino, that in my opinion hadn't been brought up enough...

But now that you wanna talk about the photo...ok, fine; first of all, the photo was only one of many photos that collectively meant to portray EP as a "party animal" (Animal House heading, "which party does he belong to?", etc.). Also, I'm assuming that the pic with Rosario Dawson was taken relatively recently (inaguration??)...If that's the case, EP had no business flashing any kind of "hand sign"...that's just plain stupid knowing he's a congressional candidate in a district that, you know what? just so happens to have a gang problem...

For crying out loud, i freakin met EP at a House Party...But hey, there's nothing wrong with that, right? he's a kid and kids like to have fun, drink, takes pics with women...or at least I do.  (nic, i'm a "he")  

[ Parent ]
so it doesn't bother you in the least (0.00 / 0)
that Rosario Dawson was used toward a narrative of Pleitez' womanizing and that Voto Latino was used as an example of a narrative of flashing gang signs?

[ Parent ]
No (0.00 / 0)
In this case, I think it's irrelevant...that's my personal opinion

[ Parent ]
if it was your mother (0.00 / 0)
would you hold the same opinion?

[ Parent ]
What about Cedillo's junkets, etc.? (0.00 / 0)
Speaking of partying, Cedillo has journeyed around the world, staying in first class hotels, and generally had himself a good old time using campaign contributions.  He still does not live in the district, either.  What a fraud!

actually, not really (0.00 / 0)
Actually, it's quite typical of legislators to travel the globe on legislative business...do you really think that the Congressional group of legislators that recently went to Cuba on business stayed at Motel Havana?? c'mon.  

[ Parent ]
young dems (0.00 / 0)
It's interesting to see a Young Democrats Endorsee with such contempt for Young Democrats.

My thoughts exactly (5.00 / 1)
I find myself wondering if the Young Dems are going to be reconsidering their endorsement.

[ Parent ]
This is the kind of stuff that turns young people away from politics... (5.00 / 1)
Blatant political hackery.

A complete lack of information about real issues.

Almost certain hypocrisy ("almost" because there was nothing like Facebook to catalog Cedillo's younger years, so we can't know for sure)

Nerdy guys? Want to look cool?  Did he make a dork joke in a campaign mailer?  DId he just say that he (!!!!)  was cool in an underhanded way?

This is an embarrassing ad.  Everyone in the Facebook generation has photos like this.  Will every Young Dem that decides to get into politics have to deal with this kind of garbage?  

?? (0.00 / 0)
you make several invalid inferences, here, buddy

[ Parent ]
Young Dem for Gil (0.00 / 0)
I'm 24 and, just like you, there are photos of me online that can be taken out of context; however, YOU AND I ARE NOT RUNNING FOR CONGRESS, get over yourself.  EP should have known better before getting into this race that he should have done whatever it takes to make those photos disappear.  That's irresponsiblity on his part. C'mon, Gil and many other candidates have a facebook page, too.

You're right about one thing, though: that "Gil Cedillo is a strong progressive legislator with a long career track record." What more do you need in your Congressional Representative??

Attacking EP's character may not have been the best move, but honestly, I simply don't believe that EP deserves a potentially life-long seat in Congress without having done anything significant, at least in my opinion, when there are leaders like Gil who are more than prepared to take on the job.  

As a member of the Young Dems, I uphold our endorsement of Gil Cedillo.  

Besides the facebook fiasco (0.00 / 0)
I find it funny that there are only 3 candidates live within the 32nd congressional district.  Judy Chu, E. Pleitez and David Truax!  

Can you sue the Cedillo campaign? (0.00 / 0)
I had another question.  With the mass mailing of these photos, if a person who is not a "public" figure is placed on these mail pieces and was not asked permission to be used as a political ploy for cedillo to screw up Pleitez can they sue?  Pictures are placed up by friends, but do these people have rights?  Any kind of protection?  Anyone out there know the law?

No (0.00 / 0)
See the Yes on 8 campaign's atrocious use of a picture of school children attending a same-sex wedding.  There is, however, a bill pending in the Assembly that would make it a crime to use a child's picture in a campaign ad without their parent's permission.  Not applicable here, though.

[ Parent ]
I'm trying (0.00 / 0)
to get a comment from the Pleitez campaign, I'll let you know when I have it.

IP! (0.00 / 0)
It's called "intellectual property" people!

what a joke (0.00 / 0)
if this is the best cedillo and emanuel can do, neither of them should be elected.

besides wasn't cedillo known as "one bill gil" in his term in office?

and if he was doing so great why is he sending hit mailers out on a 26 year old who probably isn't going to win anyways?



there's a very good answer to that (0.00 / 0)
Gil needs all the support he can get from the Latino community to win.  The campaign isn't attacking Pleitez because he's a frontrunner--it's attacking Pleitez because he's drawing a non-negligible chunk of the Latino vote that Gil needs.

Even if Pleitez only draws 5%, those votes could mean the difference between winning and losing for Gil Cedillo in such a low-turnout election with racially polarized demographics.

[ Parent ]
yup (0.00 / 0)
Dante, I actually agree with you on this

[ Parent ]
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