By Lillian Boyd, Dana Point Times
Headlands Reserve, LLC Developer Sanford Edward has filed a lawsuit for libel against Dana Point Taxpayers Association (DPTA) regarding political mailers sent out prior to the 2018 Dana Point City Council election.
In weeks leading up to Nov. 6, 2018, DPTA published and distributed campaign mailers that opposed city council candidates Charles Payne, Mark McGinn and Joe Jaeger. One mailer depicts all three candidates as puppets, with captions claiming Councilmember Debra Lewis teamed up with Edward to elect the three. Snippets of a lawsuit complaint the City of Dana Point filed against Headlands Reserve, LLC are highlighted to show the city accused Sanford of fraud after failing to pay more than $500,000 in an alleged contract breach.
Another mailer shows a photograph of Edward meeting with Payne and former Financial Review Committee Vice Chairman Buck Hill for lunch, with the caption, “Meet the kingmakers and the candidate.”
In Edward’s complaint, it states that the city dismissed its case against Edward, rescinded the fraud claim and publicly conceded that it was a mistake in a formal settlement agreement 18 months prior to the mailers being published.
The complaint alleges that James Lacy served as counsel for DPTA and Michael Powers served as an officer of DPTA. Dana Point Times reached out to Powers for comment, but calls were not returned by press time.
“I can confirm that several days before the November 2018 election, and after DPTA received a letter from a lawyer for Sanford Edward threatening to sue them, I was engaged to prepare a legal response to that letter,” Lacy said in an email.
Lacy denies serving as counsel to DPTA other than for the specific purpose of helping DPTA respond to the two letters from Edward that threatened legal action. He stated he had no further comment at this time.
“DPTA PAC will not be bullied by Edward for exercising our First Amendment right to communicate in the political process. Edward’s decade-long history of political activism and donations in the pursuit of his development are well documented,” said a press release issued by DPTA.
The complaint states that the plaintiff has no knowledge of the true names and capacities of defendants sued, and will amend the complaint when the names of defendants are ascertained.
“We have every intention of prosecuting the individuals who deliberately defamed me and used illegal tactics to support their candidates,” Edward said.