A political mailer accusing Felipe Hueso of tax evasion has become the subject of a potential lawsuit between the City Council candidate and a rival.

District 8 candidate David Alvarez earlier this month sent an advertisement attacking two better known rivals in the race to represent San Diego’s southernmost neighborhoods, Hueso and Nick Inzunza.

The mailer goes after their family connections and assails Hueso’s past financial problems. (The mailer’s other side is pro-Alvarez.)

Hueso, an attorney, struck back.

He hired a lawyer, Linda Atcherley, who sent the Alvarez campaign a cease-and-desist letter. Tax evasion, Atcherley wrote, implied Hueso was guilty of a crime. Instead, Hueso owed back taxes to the IRS, which he had paid off.

Atcherley demanded Alvarez send a second mail advertisement apologizing for the first, and threatened a lawsuit.

Please note that any and all efforts to mitigate damages will be appreciated. However, nothing contained in this letter is intended to release you from the liability you have already brought upon yourself …

Alvarez’s lawyer, Rory Pendergast, responded with his own letter, essentially telling Hueso to buzz off.

Indeed, it appears the demand letter is simply an attempt to chill Mr. Alvarez’s constitutionally protected political speech. As such, Mr. Alvarez refuses to acquiesce to the baseless demands of the letter and strongly suggests Mr. Hueso stop his attempt to silence this political speech.

I called Hueso today to see what his next steps were. He said he didn’t plan to respond until after the election. He didn’t want the issue to become a further distraction or give Alvarez any more publicity. Negative campaigning won’t win the race, Hueso said.

“It’s not about name calling and acting like an idiot like he is,” Hueso said.

My story today on the race addresses other reaction to the mailer. Inzunza’s consultant, Larry Remer, complained because the mailer attacks shoddy maintenance at properties owned by Inzunza’s nephew, also named Nick, when the younger Inzunza was mayor of National City. Alvarez said the Hueso and Inzunza families were fair game because both made their connections a campaign issue.

Hueso’s younger brother Ben is District 8’s current city councilman. Ben Hueso’s predecessor was Ralph Inzunza, a second nephew of the current candidate.

— LIAM DILLON

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