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LA Archdiocese Asks Villanueva Campaign To Nix Ad That Features The Sheriff Praying In A Local Church

A large church as seen from above features a Spanish tile rook and a red bring spire with a cross on top.
The L.A. Archdiocese says a parish priest at St. Alphonsus Church in East L.A. did not have the authority to allow Sheriff Alex Villanueva to film a reelection campaign ad at their location.
(Kirby Lee
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The Los Angeles Archdiocese is not happy about a controversial new campaign ad that features Sheriff Alex Villanueva inside a local church. The ad shows Villanueva pensively walking inside St. Alphonsus Church in East L.A.

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The sheriff clasps his hands together in prayer as images of turmoil and unrest are projected onto stained glass windows and images of religious figures.

“Lord, give me the strength to protect the public from violent crime ... Give me the humility and patience to not let the naysayers discourage our brave women and men from serving with honor,” Villanueva says in the ad.

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The Villanueva campaign said in an emailed statement that it “received permission to film from St. Alphonsus Church" and that a parish priest "was on set during filming.”

But the Archdiocese says it was not properly informed either by the parish or the Villanueva campaign. According to Archdiocese policy, church property can not be used for candidates’ political campaigns.

In a statement, the Archdiocese says it “requested that the ad be taken down and was assured that it would be removed.”

The controversy around the ad comes as a Villanueva opponent has received considerable financial support, with the Katzenberg Family Trust donating $500,000 to an independent committee formed to back ex-Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna for sheriff. Luna has also been endorsed by The Los Angeles Times.

According to campaign finance filings, $350,000 of that money has gone toward “online and TV advertising.”

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