Archdiocese of Los Angeles says it never gave Villanueva permission to shoot campaign ad at church

This week, incumbent Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva released a new campaign ad for his re-election bid.

In the ad, the incumbent sheriff is seen entering a church, walking along the aisle with a voiceover of Villanueva saying a prayer for the homelesses in Los Angeles, for his department's deputies and the safety of the public playing in the background.

As the voiceover continued on, the ad showed brief images of apparent unrest and blaring sirens. The ad ends with Villanueva saying "Amen" with a giant message that reads, "VOTE."

Villanueva unveiled the campaign ad on his "Alex4Sheriff" social media account. Below is a full caption of his post

"It takes strength to lead others & fight those that would do others harm. I draw much of my strength from the man above. Please share our new campaign ad about taking guidance and staying on a moral path. 

Sheriff Alex Villanueva has a plan to reduce violent crime and compassionately end homelessness. Sheriff V also has the courage, strength, and humility to ask the Lord for guidance."

The primary election day, which includes race for Los Angeles County Sheriff, takes place Tuesday, June 7. Villanueva faces a list of candidates that includes the following individuals: Enrique Del Real, April Saucedo Hood, Robert Luna, Cecil Rhambo, Matt Rodriguez, Britta Steinbrenner, Eric Strong and Eli Vera.

Incumbent Villanueva is looking to remain sheriff for Los Angeles County – the same seat he has had since 2018.

The Archdiocese of Los Angeles claims the campaign ad was filmed without its permission. The Archdiocese of Los Angeles also said it is not endorsing any of "political candidates' campaign activity."

Below is a statement released by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles:

"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."

Villanueva's campaign responded to those claims from the Archdiocese, saying that they had gotten permission to shoot the ad from St. Alphonsus Church itself, and Father Rodrigo, saying they were "not made aware that any further permissions were required at the time of filming." The campaign says it's since reached out to the Archdiocese to "remedy any concerns."