The Lincoln Club of San Diego County is one of the largest in California, according to its website, with over 300 members.  Their mission is “to advance free market principles and ideas by recruiting, endorsing and financing business-friendly candidates and ballot measures that reflect their commitment to responsible public policy, the expansion of economic opportunity, ad an enhanced quality of life throughout San Diego County.”

Recently, The Lincoln Club paid for, through its campaign committee, a negative ad against City Councilman and mayoral candidate David Alvarez. You can click here to see it.

The mailer has raised a lot of controversy, which in turn has drawn attention to The Lincoln Club. They say there is no such thing as bad publicity, but this…this SDLRLA believes pushes the limit too far.

On Friday, the Los Angeles-based progressive group Courage Campaign said the mailer uses “racist stereotypes.”

“This ad perpetuates the insulting, inaccurate notion that all Latinos are gang members, as opposed to educated, accomplished and hardworking members of our society,” the group’s executive chairman Paul Song said. “Alvarez has never been involved or associated with gangs in his life.”

Tom Shepard, a political consultant who has worked for former mayors Jerry Sanders and Bob Filner and candidate Nathan Fletcher, made similar observations earlier in an interview with 10News.

To give full coverage to this dispute, San Diego Police Department spokesman James Johnson showed the picture in question to several gang experts. “Based on their training and experience, there are no known gang gestures similar to those depicted in the picture,” he said.  Al Valdez, a professor at the University California, Irvine, with decades of law enforcement experience related to gangs, agreed.

Lincoln Club spokesman Tony Manolatos denied the piece is in any way racist.  “It is absolutely not,” he said. “That is a picture of a politician who is taking millions and millions of dollars from labor unions. It’s all about that money, and that is what we are stressing. It made the point that Councilman Alvarez has opposed every financial reform that San Diego voters have supported.”

The text with the disputed photo, which was clearly altered like the others in the mailer, actually criticizes Alvarez for supporting a tax increase and says nothing about his support from unions.

Take a look at the mailer and you decide. But if you think that The Lincoln Club has gone too far with this campaign, take the time to make a donation to Councilman Alvarez here and email The Lincoln Club (tjzane@sdlincolnclub.org) to let them know you donated because of their mailer…. TO Councilman Alvarez.