Former Huntington Beach Mayor Jill Hardy has decried what she calls inaccuracies in campaign mailers seeking to derail her run for City Council.
A piece sent out last week by a Newport Beach political action committee accuses her of endangering children in her work as a school teacher and says her brother is a registered sex offender. Hardy calls the accusations by Atlas PAC false, out-of-context distortions.
Her brother is not a registered sex offender, a statement backed up by a review of public records. He was, however, convicted of having consensual oral sex with a 17-year-old female college student he was dating when he was 26.
"It was a misdemeanor, he served his probation, and he's not a registered sex offender," Hardy said. "His issue has nothing to do with me or my candidacy."
The mailer accuses Hardy of favoring her brother over children when she voted while on the council against endorsing Jessica's Law, which prohibits sex offenders from living near schools or parks.
Hardy said her vote had nothing to do with her brother, who wouldn't have been affected by the law. She said she voted no at the advice of law enforcement officers who said it would lead sex offenders to become homeless and make it harder for police to track them.
Only the state's more serious sex offenders must register their locations with police and appear on the Megan's Law website.
Emails and phone calls to Atlas and Chairman Lee Lowrey were not returned.
Atlas also accused Hardy of having "a troubling record of hurting kids."
And on Wednesday, another Atlas mailer claimed Hardy had to resign her post from the Huntington Beach Union School District for endangering a Huntington Beach High School student on a school trip to Moscow.
According to Atlas, she left the student unattended on a bus, leading another student to call paramedics.
Hardy said an 18-year-old student on the trip merely fell ill with the flu and was taken care of by a male advisor in accordance with the school district's policy. Hardy noted that the male advisor was the one who called paramedics.
Hardy was not forced to resign by the district, she said. She now teaches math and social studies at another Union school, Marina High School.
The PAC has endorsed Councilman Devin Dwyer, who is the only incumbent in the race, Planning Commissioner Erik Peterson and former Mayor Dave Sullivan, who is running for the third time.
Hardy does not blame them for the hit pieces, saying none of them controls the PAC's activities.
"If it was me that was endorsed by a group that participates in dirty politics or bullying, I would reject the endorsement," Hardy said of the other candidates.
Dwyer recently rejected the Atlas endorsement and said he told Lowery when he ran into him Friday in Newport Beach that he didn't need his money.
"I just think it's out of line to be getting in people's personal stuff," he said. "There's no bearing on what we're dealing with, and she's been a council person before."
"I don't think we should be playing politics like that," said Peterson, who hadn't seen the mailers.
Sullivan said he disagrees with Atlas, but issues regarding the school incident and Hardy's vote on Jessica's Law will be left to voters to decide.
Sullivan acknowledged that he and Hardy were endorsed by some of the same organizations, showing that they align on many issues but differ on others.
Community outrage over the mailings is beginning to boil over.
A letter signed by former mayors Gil Coerper, Debbie Cook and Grace Winchell, council members Joe Shaw and Connie Boardman and Planning Commissioner Mark Bixby, among other community members, was sent to the media.
"The recent slanderous political mailer against former Huntington Beach Mayor and current City Council candidate Jill Hardy is an example of the monied interests that are threatening our very Democracies," the letter read. "Jill Hardy has become the target of an out-of-town hired gun because she has a proven track record of withstanding the political pressure of special interest groups and she is leading in the polls."