VETERANS FILE LEGAL ACTION AGAINST YES ON 21 CAMPAIGN FOR BREAKING STATE LAW BY USING ACTOR TO IMPERSONATE WAR HERO IN POLITICAL AD

CALL ON ATTORNEY GENERAL BECERRA, SAN DIEGO & LA DISTRICT ATTORNEYS TO INVESTIGATE MICHAEL WEINSTEIN’S AHF FOR VIOLATING “STOLEN VALOR ACT”

SACRAMENTO – Veterans today called upon Attorney General Xavier Becerra, San Diego County Attorney Summer Stephan, and Los Angeles County Attorney Jackie Lacey to investigate the Yes on 21 campaign for violating the state’s “Stolen Valor Act” by using an actor to impersonate a war hero in a political ad. 

In a complaint filed today with the three law enforcement officials, U.S. Marine Corps veteran Rocky Chavez, the former undersecretary of the California Department of Veterans Affairs and a former member of the California Assembly from Oceanside, said the Yes on 21 campaign, falsely represents support for Proposition 21 by using an actor posing as a veteran in an advertisement broadcast statewide. 

Proposition 21 is opposed by the state’s leading veterans’ groups.

State law, which Chavez authored, expressly bans “A person who knowingly, with the intent to impersonate, for the purposes of promoting a business, charity, or endeavor, misrepresents himself or herself as a member or veteran of the Armed Forces of the United States, the California National Guard, the State Military Reserve, or the Naval Militia by wearing the uniform or military decoration authorized for use by the members or veterans of those forces.” 

The actor, Troy Dillinger, portrays himself as a veteran. Wearing fatigues and also a dress uniform in the ad, the actor is shown at a desk viewing various awards and medals, as well as honorable discharge papers. None of them belong to Mr. Dillinger.

“The members of the veterans’ organizations opposing Prop 21 are actual veterans of the United States military, who served our country at great sacrifice,” noted Chavez in the complaint. “The attempt of the Yes on 21 campaign to falsely cloak themselves the honor that is rightly accorded veterans is an insult to those who actually served and a fraud upon the voters. More importantly, it is illegal, and we ask that enforce the Stolen Valor Act accordingly.”

Veterans groups opposing Proposition 21 include: American Legion, Department of California; Veterans of Foreign Wars, Dept. of California; AMVETS, Department of California; AMVETS Service Foundation, Department of California; Association of the U.S. Army, Northern California Chapters; Association of the U.S. Army, Southern California Chapters; Cesar E. Chavez Sacramento Chapter of the American G.I. Forum; Filipino-American United States Marines Association; Jewish War Veterans, Department of California; Marine Corps Veterans Association; Military Officers Association of America, California Council of Chapters; Reserve Organization of America, Department of the Golden West; Scottish American Military Society – California Chapters; Vietnam Veterans of America, California State Council; and the Women Veterans Alliance.

This complaint filed today is yet another probe into the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, the major funder of the Proposition 21 initiative. The Fair Political Practices Commission, the state’s campaign finance watchdog, is currently probing the organization for failing to fully disclose its expenditures against housing legislation. Earlier this year, Senator Ben Hueso (D-San Diego) called on the California Attorney General to investigate AHF’s use of nonprofit funds for political purposes.

Last week, POLITICO revealed that the AIDS Health Foundation is utilizing the Trump/Pence campaign’s political consultants to guide its Proposition 21 media effort.

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Paid for by No on Prop 21: Californians for Responsible Housing, a coalition of seniors, veterans, affordable housing advocates, labor & social justice organizations, sponsored by California Apartment Association. Committee Major Funding from Essex Property Trust and Affiliated Entities; Equity Residential; and AvalonBay Communities.
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