May 6, 2014

Fresno City Council candidate apologizes for flier's Auschwitz image (video)

Fresno City Council candidate Mike Wells confirmed Tuesday that a campaign flier he sent to residents contained an image of the Auschwitz Nazi death camp.

The volunteer graphic designer who created the mailer was let go from the campaign, Wells said during an afternoon news conference at Fresno City Hall. But Wells still did not know how the designer, who is from Fresno but lives out of town, found the photo and chose to use it.

"With deep regret, I have concluded that the photograph in a May 3 mailer, which was doctored, is an image of a concentration camp," Wells said. "Let me be clear, I find the image offensive, at odds with my faith and with the faith-based community with whom I have worked many years. I sincerely apologize to anyone offended by this."

RELATED STORY: Fresno council candidate's flier uses Nazi death camp image, clergy say

On Monday, members of the Christian and Jewish community joined Wells' opponent in the District 7 race, Council Member Clint Olivier, to call for the withdrawal of the mailers and an apology.

Wells, a community activist who once worked for Fresno Metro Ministry, said he did not recognize the image. He said he had asked the designer to find a photograph of urban blight.

"For some reason, the graphic designer took this horrible photo and completely altered it," Wells said. "That person has been dismissed from my campaign and the piece has been removed from circulation."

Rabbi Rick Winer of Temple Beth Israel, who stood alongside Olivier on Monday, accepted the apology and appeared with Wells after learning about the mix up.

"I appreciate when people understand that they've made a mistake and account for that."

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