Former Carson City Councilman Mike Gipson is being sued by the man he defeated in a heated race for the 64th Assembly District in November over a campaign ad that allegedly made his opponent look like he was wielding a handgun.
Prophet Walker filed the lawsuit Wednesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, also naming political consultant Angel Gonzalez. The suit seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages and an injunction preventing “further publication or distribution of false photographs” of Walker.
A representative for Gipson could not be immediately reached.
According to the lawsuit, Gipson authorized a campaign mailer in which a photo of the plaintiff was superimposed on the body of someone in a hooded sweatshirt who was pointing a handgun. Prophet became aware of the ad about a week before the election, the suit states.
“This image was clearly intended to appear as a real and true photo,” the suit states. “Its sole purpose was to persuade voters that Prophet Walker had been photographed in a hoodie brandishing a handgun in order to sway the election in Gipson’s favor.”
Gipson hired Gonzalez, described in the lawsuit as “a consultant known to have a criminal record of producing false and illegal mailers,” to create the ad and influence voters, the complaint alleges.
The ad was malicious and libelous on its face, the complaint states. The suit further alleges the state Elections Code was violated because no disclaimer was placed in the mailer stating that the photo “was not an accurate representation of fact.”
In response to protests from Walker’s attorney, a lawyer for Gipson stated Nov. 1 that the ad was no longer being distributed, according to the lawsuit.
The 64th Assembly District includes Carson, Compton, Watts, Willowbrook, parts of South Los Angeles and sections of Wilmington and Long Beach.
Gipson replace Isadore Hall, who was elected in November to the state senate’s 35th district.
Correction: A previous version of this story misstated in the fourth paragraph that Prophet Walker authorized the campaign mailer. The campaign mailer was authorized by Mike Gipson. Amended 10:57 a.m., March 26, 2015.
— City News Service