Update for Loomis mayor suit

Former Loomis mayor Calvert sues political action group
By: Carol Percy, Reporter
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A former Loomis mayor is suing a political action group, saying its defamatory campaign ad lost her the 2014 election.

Sandra Calvert filed a lawsuit in Sacramento County Court on Jan. 15 against the Region Builders Political Action Committee, according to her attorney, Douglas Watts, on Thursday.

Calvert served as Loomis mayor in 2012 and ran for re-election to the Loomis town council in 2014 along with four other candidates. She lost the election, finishing in fourth place, she said Thursday.

When the Loomis News asked Calvert Thursday about specific details concerning the lawsuit against Region Builders, she referred questions to Watts.

Watts said Thursday that Region Builders mailed out a negative advertisement the day before the 2014 election that stated, “She (Calvert) attempted to shake down a religious charity for $662,000 for tree mitigation.”

“People opening up that letter would have said, “Holy crap, there’s a crook running for office. Which was of course what they wanted,” Watts said.

The term “shakedown” is the same as saying that “somebody is an extortionist,” Watt said.

“It would make a reader believe that Sandra is a corrupt politician on the take, trying to get money for her own benefit,” Watts said.

Calvert’s attorney said that Calvert hopes to show them (the Region Builders Political Action Committee) that their negative campaign tactics will not work in the future.

“Sandra’s hoping these kinds of defamatory statements will never happen again in Loomis politics,” Watts said.

Gary Liss, the Loomis mayor in 2010, said Thursday that the late-hour smear tactics being used by political action groups has been occurring during Loomis campaigns for about eight years.

“This type of last minute ‘hit piece’ has been going on with Loomis politics since 2006,” Liss said.

The “paper trails” have led back to campaign opponents or to groups based in Orange County, according to Liss.

When Liss ran for council again in 2012, according to Liss, “there were negative robot telephone calls made to Loomis residents the weekend before the election using false statements similar to those used against Calvert.”

“I applaud that Sandy’s fighting back against this increasingly harsh language (used by the Region Builders Political Action Committee) that is now crossing the line that’s considered libel,” Liss said.

“We need to get Loomis pointed back to discussing issues and facts rather than using negative campaign tactics,” Liss said. “Win or lose, this suit will help Loomis clean up our elections.”

Dave Wheeler, a Loomis town council member who ran for council along with Calvert in the 2012 election, said negative comments by opponents were “the price of running for political office.”

“There were a number of things that were misrepresented about me (in the 2012 Loomis town council election) that go with the territory. It happens in any election,” Wheeler said.

But in the end, Wheeler said, voters decide “what’s fact and what’s fiction” in the campaign.

Phone calls to Loomis town Loomis town manager, Rick Angelocci were not returned by press time on Friday.

The Loomis News was unable to talk to the Region Builders by press time.