By Jim Shilander
San Clemente development opponent Charles Mann has issued an apology to the San Clemente Chamber of Commerce for making false statements about the Chamber in mailers sent in opposition to Chamber endorsed City Council candidates Jim Dahl and Mike Mortenson.
“I have egg on my face,” Mann said. “We had no intention of ever making a statement that’s false or incorrect.”
The Chamber’s attorney had sent a letter to Mann and his wife Jeri on Monday demanding an apology for what he termed “false” and “libelous” statements made in two mailers sent out by Mann’s political action committee, Watchdog for San Clemente Responsible Government. The mailers included allegations that the Chamber was using taxpayer funds in support of Dahl and Mortenson, and that the Chamber’s support of Dahl represented a “kickback,” to Dahl for past council votes in support of the Chamber.
Mann said the statements were the result of misunderstanding the nature of the relationship between the Chamber and its political action committee. Mann said he now fully understood the difference, and would be sure that the Watchdog group, which he said would continue moving forward, would not make such a mistake again. “There’s nothing I hate more than being incorrect.”
Originally, the Chamber had sought an immediate apology, stating that if the apology was not sent out the next day, the Chamber would file a defamation suit. The apology is dated November 7, the day following the election. Dahl and Mortenson finished third and fourth, respectively, behind Mann backed candidates Chris Hamm and Bob Baker.
The apology reads as follows:
“On behalf of Watchdog for San Clemente Responsible Government – A Committee Formed to Oppose Jim Dahl and Michael Mortenson for City Council 2012 (“Watchdog”), Jeri Mann, Better Presenter LLC, Janice Smith, Pacific Corporate Consultants, Inc., and myself, I hereby acknowledge that statements regarding the San Clemente Chamber of Commerce in two political advertisements that Watchdog distributed are false.
I apologize to the Chamber, its members, and its directors, for any suggestion that anyone associated with the Chamber has engaged in any misconduct.”
Chamber President Lynn Wood stated in an email that the Chamber accepted the apology.
“We are pleased that Charles and Jeri Mann and their associates have acknowledged that during the course of the recent city council campaign, they caused to be published false statements about the Chamber, and that they have apologized for publishing those false statements. We accept their apology. We are hopeful that going forward, although we may disagree on the merits of various ideas and proposals, all sides will debate the facts and relative merits of proposals, and not resort to false statements to support their positions or their favored candidates.”