Why Political Operative Ace Smith Is the True Loser in the L.A. Mayoral Race

Passing him on the street elicits no double take, no backward stare, not even a slight tremor of the head. And why should it? Averell “Ace” Smith is perfectly ordinary—straight-from-Central-Casting ordinary. He’s an unassuming, bald, bespectacled, soft-spoken sixty-ish man, the sort of James Bond villain who invites you to tea and offers to show you his collection of vintage books—before calmly roasting you on a spit. Smith—the very name begs anonymity—prefers you don’t remember him, prefers you not keep notes, prefers actually that you please leave right now rather than open the curtain exposing him for what he is: a cutthroat political operative who will do or say anything to win.

Bigotry never wins

He’s been called “Dr. Death” and “Michael Corleone” by those of his own profession who both admire his winning campaigns and fear his blood-sport tactics. Fellow political operative Gary South commented of his colleague, “I don’t consider what we do to be a highly moral profession. He digs under every rock.”

“It’s a dark art and Ace is a master of it,” agrees consultant Nathan Ballard. “I can’t point to any examples because that’s the point.”

“Ace won't let the truth get in the way of his attacks.”

But the examples are there if one only looks. The latest arrow to emerge from Smith’s quiver of lies, scare tactics, exploitation, innuendo and guilt-by-association was one he’d never tried before—a new low, even for him: damning his client’s opponent in Los Angeles’ mayoral race for supporting a church. Here was a box to tick off on the checklist that was so egregious it had to be penciled in under its own category: religious bigotry.

Operating on the principle that fear sells, Smith concocted a narrative about the Church of Scientology consisting entirely of generations-old lies long since disproven and “accused” his candidate’s opponent of—GASP!—acknowledging the Church of Scientology’s good works in the community.

The smear ad was released without the slightest attention to veracity, accuracy or fact-check. As political strategist Kevin Spillane once commented, “Ace won’t let the truth get in the way of his attacks.”

Sean Clegg, partner and founder of Smith’s outfit, Bearstar, said that “the Scientology ad made a great impact.”

Absolutely right, Sean! The attack ad made a great impact—if one considers great the immediate explosion of protest from local religious and community leaders over the injection of religious bigotry into a political campaign; if one regards as desirable the aghast reaction of tens of thousands of Angeleno Scientologists experiencing their faith trampled on in quest of a few votes from the Bigot Bloc; and if one treats as a victory for democracy the defensive counter-punch by Smith’s target—thus making hate the ultimate qualification for City Hall—then sure. It made a great impact.

And politics in the City of Angels will take an untold number of election cycles to recover from that great impact.

You’ve just thrown 100,000 Angelenos under the bus in exchange for a handful of ballots, and YOU feel bullied?!

And what of “Dr. Death” Smith himself? Proud of his achievement, Smith did what any professional who has done a fine job would do: at the first whiff of protest from those harmed by the smear, he scurried back into the shadows, blocked those exposing him, put his Twitter account on private and cowered behind his desktop, bigotry intact.

His partner was more forthcoming. Boldly claiming, “We won’t be pressured by the Church of Scientology,” Clegg assured any haters tuning in that he stood by Bearstar’s bigotry. Clegg’s simultaneous claim of victimhood and manhood will surely go down as one of the classic hypocrisies of our time. Dude, you’ve just thrown 100,000 Angelenos under the bus in exchange for a handful of ballots, and YOU feel bullied?!

But Smith and Clegg are wrong—dead wrong. Their gambit backfired. By playing fast and loose with the First Amendment—the bedrock of the very political system Ace Smith has squeezed to the tune of tens of millions of dollars—the ultimate loser of the LA mayoral race was Ace Smith himself.

Martin Landon
Martin Landon is happy to say that at present he is not doing anything he doesn’t love. Using Scientology, he helps people daily, both one-on-one through life coaching, and globally, through his webinars. He has also authored books, movies, plays, TV shows, and comic strips and currently writes for STAND, which gives him great joy.