Oakland Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente, who is running one of the most negative local campaigns in recent memory, has crossed the line into bigotry, East Bay LGBT activists say. The East Bay Stonewall Democratic Club, the leading LGBT political organization in the area, contends that emails and mailers that De La Fuente has produced to attack Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan, the city’s first openly gay councilmember, are “homophobic,” because they ridicule her behavior and attire.campaign email that De La Fuente sent to voters last week featured photos of two people, one of whom is De La Fuente’s council aide, Claudia Burgos, dressed up in butch clothing, impersonating Kaplan and stating that Kaplan was supposedly campaigning for De La Fuente. The email later states that it was meant to be a Halloween joke. However, the email is not only not funny, but the object of the supposed joke is Kaplan and her manner of dress. In another email, De La Fuente criticized Kaplan for calling for the repeal of an out-of-date law that prohibited Oakland residents from wearing clothes of the opposite sex.
“Mocking someone’s femininity or masculinity is what is the heart of the anti-bullying campaign going on nationwide,” said Stonewall chair Brendalynn Goodall in a statement. “Words and images like those used in De La Fuente’s emails to supporters is hurtful to the intended target, but also sends the wrong message to our impressionable youth that mocking someone’s sexual orientation or how they look is OK. This is nothing more than bullying in the guise of political messaging.”
The De La Fuente emails followed hit-piece mailers that his campaign produced, mocking Kaplan for supporting the city’s medical cannabis businesses, Oakland's vibrant downtown nightlife scene, and the growing popularity of urban homesteading. One mailer repeatedly called Kaplan “fluff.” De La Fuente's attack mailers and emails also portray Kaplan as a partier. They do not mention, however, that De La Fuente was arrested a few years ago in Oakland for allegedly driving drunk.
Kaplan responded to the negative attacks last week with a TV ad that noted that De La Fuente, who is portraying himself as tough on crime, was the primary backer of the 2010 police layoffs — which she opposed. Kaplan’s ad also notes that De La Fuente helped kill a proposal that she and other councilmembers made last year to rehire all the laid off cops who were still looking for jobs.