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Commerce Councilman Blatantly Violating His Own City Laws to Further His Campaign

 

By Brian Hews

June 4, 2022~Commerce Councilman Leonard Mendoza apparently does not think local laws apply to him and his campaign, and he refuses to stop when notified of a violation.

Scary to think what else he would try inside the city, given he could win a City Council seat this Tuesday.

Mendoza is printing the Commerce City Seal on his campaign materials, blatantly violating two of the City’s Municipal Codes, sections 2.09.030 and 2.09.040.

Removed as mayor weeks ago, Mendoza is also sending out material via USPS proclaiming he is the mayor of the city, which could be prosecuted as mail fraud.

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A campaign flyer mailed out by Mendoza last week clearly showing the city seal (on the rug). He also calls himself “Mayor Leonard Mendoza.” Both are violations he was warned about by the Commerce City Clerk.

 

Image posted three days ago on Mendoza’s Facebook calling himself mayor. He was warned not to do that April 20, 2022 by the city clerk.

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Mendoza has been warned several times by Commerce City Clerk Lena Shumway, but he did not listen or stop his unethical behavior.

Shumway was forced to write a letter to Mendoza on June 2, 2022, obtained by HMG-CN, outlining his violations and demanding him to cease using the City Seal and calling himself mayor on campaign materials.

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“The city is aware that you produced [campaign materials] that utilize the City Seal.

“Please be advised that Commerce Municipal Code (“CMC”) section 2.09.030 makes it unlawful and prohibits the use of the official City Seal or logo by any person.

“Further, CMC section 2.09.040 prohibits the use of the City Seal in a manner that causes persons to believe that the document is an official city document or represents the position of the city.

“Your candidate fliers contain the City Seal and violates both CMC sections 2.09.030 and 2.09.040. As such, please immediately remove [everything] utilizing the City seal from all locations, websites, and social media platforms immediately.”

A check today, June 4, of Mendoza’s social media post and fliers, two days after receiving Shumway’s letter, shows Mendoza has not removed the City seal.

And he likely won’t remove everything, given he has not obeyed Shumway’s earlier demands.

On April 20, 2022, Shumway sent a letter regarding Mendoza’s illegal use of his former title of mayor; Mendoza wrote back and assured Shumway he would stop; that was six weeks ago.

Mendoza wrote, “Lena, out of courtesy I can stop using the mayor title in my literature.”

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An email sent from Mendoza to Lena Shumway telling her he would “stop using the mayor title.” Click on image to view larger document.

 

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But Mendoza did not stop.

Shumway wrote in her June 2 letter, “You assured me that you would no longer use your former title of “Mayor” in future campaign literature. I received several complaints that you continue using your former title of a “Mayor” in all your campaign literature. Please cease using that title on any of your campaign literature, or social media platforms immediately.”

The larger question is whether Mendoza was committing mail fraud when he placed the city logo and his mayor title on campaign material he is mailing to Commerce residents.

There are three elements of mail fraud under USPS laws; scheme to defraud, intent to defraud, and using the mail to further the fraud.

“A scheme to defraud means using dishonest means to communicate a misrepresentation or lie.”

Mendoza did that by mailing out his campaign materials with the city seal while calling himself mayor.

“Intent to defraud means that the defendant intends to be deceitful or dishonest; an individual cannot commit fraud if he believes his statements were truthful and honest.”

Mendoza had been warned on April 20 by the City Clerk, who was very clear he could not call himself mayor anywhere, yet since then, he has mailed out several USPS campaign materials calling himself mayor.

Use of the mails in furtherance of the scheme is in this case obvious. Mendoza used the mail to send out his lies, paying for it with his own campaign money.

Shumway’s letter is a good blueprint for a Los Angeles County District Attorney complaint, the mail fraud could be more difficult to prosecute, but the fraud elements are there according to USPS laws.

An email sent to Mendoza has not been returned, but he knows about the June 2 letter.

After HMG-CN posted a screenshot of the actual letter from Shumway, Mendoza [ironically] pointed out that the city logo was missing from the letter; HMG-CN had taken a screenshot of the letter without the logo, but the screenshot did have Shumway’s signature.

 

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