SAN DIEGO -- A new TV ad against San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio has the mayoral candidate so upset he is threatening to sue TV stations that air it.
The ad, paid for by the San Diego Police Officers Association, claims DeMaio voted against benefits for the families of fallen officers -- an allegation that DeMaio calls "a malicious lie."
DeMaio told 10News, "This ad is a new low in this campaign ... It's a lie and the labor unions know it's a lie because they waited for the very end of the campaign to release it when we have no time to put out the facts to refute their scurrilous claims."
The commercial features the voice of Michelle Bennett, whose police officer Terry Bennett was killed in the line of duty.
Bennett says in the ad, "Our family made the ultimate sacrifice to keep our city safe. Carl Demaio voted against health care benefits for widows and children of fallen officers … He put a cheap political stunt ahead of our welfare … Carl DeMaio does not deserve our city's highest office."
DeMaio told 10News he supports survivor benefits and always has.
"My pension reform measure, Proposition B, requires that survivor benefits be provided to police and firefighter families that are killed in the line of duty," he claimed.
"Why would the widow of a fallen police officer, if her benefits were not cut because of any vote that you made, why would she then say that?" asked 10News reporter Allison Ash.
"I'm not [going to] speak to that, you'll have to ask her," DeMaio responded.
Through a statement issued by the POA, Bennett said she stands by her claim that on June 27, 2011, DeMaio voted to deny benefits to families like hers.
"He's saying a vote never took place. A vote did take place," said Brian Marvel, president of the Police Officers Association.
Marvel said the truth is on their side and they are not afraid of DeMaio's threats.
"We deal with harder things out on the street. I'm not going to let a city councilmember bully us to pull that ad down when its accurate and its truthful," said Marvel.
DeMaio said he is both angered and saddened that the Police Officers Association would use scare tactics and misinformation in an attempt to affect the outcome of Tuesday's primary election.
"Its shameful, and I think San Diegans should absolutely be outraged by these dirty tricks late in an election," DeMaio said. "The record is very clear, I have always supported survivor benefits. I have never voted against survivor benefits."
Representatives from DeMaio's campaign told 10News the councilman's "no" vote was on a billion-dollar retirement benefits package, not just on benefits for the families of fallen police officers. The representatives said had that tiny portion of the massive package stood alone, DeMaio would have cast a "yes" vote.
The Police Officers Association has endorsed state Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher's campaign to become San Diego's next mayor.
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