Received by a Democrat Female voter on 07/22/2023 via mail.
Two local law enforcement groups sent nearly identical political ads to voters attacking San Diego Councilwoman Monica Montgomery Steppe in her campaign to replace disgraced County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher in an August 15th special election by claiming she lied about reduced homicide rates in her district, but an email shows she used statistics provided to her office last year by the San Diego Police Department.
The attack ads were paid for by the San Diego Police Officers’ Association, the union for SDPD officers, and the San Diego Deputy District Attorney’s Association, the union for county prosecutors within District Attorney Summer Stephan’s office, which use the same political consultant to create their campaign mailers.
The two ads assert that there have been “skyrocketing homicides” during Montgomery Steppe’s tenure and that she “tried to fool voters” on her ballot statement when she claimed homicide rates had fallen by “50%” but the mailers assert that rates actually increased by “450%” in one year.
But an email obtained by La Prensa San Diego sent to Montgomery Steppe’s City Council office by a San Diego Police Department Captain last year detailed a drop in crimes in the department’s Southeastern Division which covers nearly all of Montgomery Steppe’s Council district.
“Also for murders, this time last year we were at 13 and currently year to date we are at 6, for a better than 50% decrease in homicides,” Captain Manuel De Toro wrote on September 13, 2022.
Montgomery Steppe used that information to formulate her official ballot statement for the upcoming special election even though the statistics were not for a calendar year as the overall numbers are reported each year.
Police union officials objected to her use of the statistics and complained to the San Diego County Registrar of Voters. The union argued that the area of SDPD’s Southeastern Division does not overlap exactly with Montgomery Steppe’s Council District and that the number was incorrect because it did not reflect the yearly totals. SDPD has eight divisions, but the City has nine council districts so the boundaries are not exact matches.
The Registrar eventually removed the contested claim from Montgomery Steppe’s ballot statement.
The 450% increase statistic in the two political mailers used the timeframe of Montgomery Steppe’s first year in office in 2019 when murders increased from two to eleven after Montgomery Steppe defeated incumbent Councilwoman Myrtle Cole, even though there were two consecutive increases in City funding to the police department in the year before Montgomery Steppe was elected and her first year in office.
The mailers also states that Montgomery Steppe “supports defunding our police” despite that fact that Montgomery Steppe has voted for every City budget during her 5 years on the City Council, including in June of this year.