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New Villanueva campaign ad taken down after Archdiocese of Los Angeles objects to its filming in church

Calls for Sheriff Villanueva's campaign manager to resign following social media statement
Calls for Sheriff Villanueva's campaign manager to resign following social media statement 02:38

A new political ad from Alex Villanueva appears to have been taken down after its release prompted the Archdiocese of Los Angeles to take a neutral position in the race for LA County Sheriff.

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(credit: CBS)

The ad showed the incumbent sheriff walking into a church to pray for public safety, the homeless in LA and his department's duties. The ad was apparently filmed in East LA's St. Alphonsus Church.

In a tweet that had included the video, the caption said, "It takes strength to lead others & fight those that would do harm. I draw much of my strength from the man above."

The Archdiocese did not have a problem with that statement of faith – they did question who authorized the ad's filming location.

"The video was filmed without the appropriate approvals of the Archdiocese. Archdiocesan policy prohibits any filming of ads on archdiocesan property for candidates running for office. The Archdiocese, which includes our parishes, schools, and ministries, does not endorse or participate in political candidates' campaign activity," a statement from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles said.

And while Villanueva's campaign said they did get permission from St. Alphonsus Church and Father Rodrigo, they have reached out to the Archdiocese to clear things up and apparently took down the video.

The ad sparked additional controversy when it brought calls for the resignation of Villanueva's campaign manager, Javier Gonzalez. 

After the ad was removed, Matt Rodriguez, one of Villanueva's competitors in the race for Los Angeles County Sheriff, tweeted, "You can pray out loud in a commercial for political gain or you can live a life daily with God in your heart. I know which one I've chosen." 

The statement was accompanied by a pair of photos from Rodriguez's congregation, to which Gonzalez responded via Twitter, "I think I bought a salsa maker from one of them at the swap meet one time. Not kidding."

Rodriguez responded almost instantly saying, "Incredibly Racist thing to say about a group of men and women of faith who have been involved with the Sheriff's Department clergy programs for years!"

While speaking with CBS reporters, Rodriguez furthered that notion, "When I saw the campaign manager of the Sheriff actually disparaging them like that, referring to them as swap meet workers, selling salsa makers, it was just greatly offensive to me," he said.

"I'm calling on the Sheriff to number one: fire him, and number two: issue a public apology to every Latino in Los Angeles County who would be offended by such a comment," Rodriguez concluded.

Residents throughout Los Angeles County are now calling for both an apology from Gonzalez, and for his resignation from Villanueva's campaign. If he fails to do so, they're demanding that the Sheriff fire him.

"We of the Clergy Hispanic of L.A. County request an apology from Mr. Javier Gonzalez, campaign manager for Mr. Alex Villanueva" said Pastor J.A. Mayorga. "For his offensive words to the Latino community and its culture."

In response, Gonzalez released an additional statement on calls for his resignation which read, "We're not commenting on desperate moves from desperate candidates that are getting no traction."

CBS reporters also reached out to Sheriff Villanueva, who has yet to issue a statement on the incident. 

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