Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders won’t be getting to the Greek during his presidential campaign’s final swing through California.
Sanders was scheduled to hold a Saturday concert at Los Angeles’ famed Greek Theater, but on the day before the event, his campaign sent an email to supporters saying they were forced to change venues. The Sanders campaign’s email attributed the switch to intervention from a local politician.
“Unfortunately, after reaching terms with the professional staff at the Greek to host our rally, interference from a local Los Angeles City Council member forced us to move from this iconic venue,” the email said.
The council member was not named in the message, but a Sanders campaign source said it was David Ryu, a Democrat whose district includes the theater. Ryu is a supporter of Sanders’ Democratic primary rival, Hillary Clinton. In the email announcing the venue change, the Sanders campaign noted that Clinton had “scheduled an identical event” at the Greek Theater next week and “no objection has been raised.”
Sanders’ Saturday evening event will now be held at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. His get-out-the-vote rally is set to feature performances by Ozomatli, Mark Foster, Best Coast, and Local Natives. Clinton is holding a star-studded Monday concert at the Greek Theater with Christina Aguilera, Andra Day, John Legend, Ricky Martin and Stevie Wonder scheduled to perform.
Both candidates are currently barnstorming California ahead of the Tuesday primary. Polls show a tight race in the delegate-rich state, but even if Sanders wins the Golden State, Clinton holds a dominating position in the primary.
Estevan Montemayor, a spokesman for Ryu, said the Sanders campaign’s claim about the councilman is “inaccurate,” in a conversation with Yahoo News.
The Greek Theater is operated by the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks and managed by a company called SMG. Montemayor said the councilman found out about the planned Sanders event on Thursday evening and stepped in because they had “deep concerns” about potential crowds.
“As the council office, overall, we oversee everything that’s in our district,” Montemayor said, adding, “We were made aware of this in the last 24 hours, and we asked if there was a traffic mitigation plan and a ticketing system. We were told no, and we had deep concerns. Sen. Sanders has proved he draws thousands of people.”
Though Ryu did step in, Montemayor said he made the same requests of the Sanders campaign and the Clinton team.
“The campaign’s portrayal is an inaccurate depiction of the last 24 hours. Any person, group or organization that chooses to have an event at the Greek Theater needs to follow the same guidelines,” Montemayor said. “We asked them to work with L.A. city staff to work on a traffic mitigation plan and a ticketing system. This is the same request that was made of the Clinton campaign, nothing more nothing less.”
Montemayor claimed that the Sanders campaign “came to the city 24 hours in advance while the Clinton campaign came to us weeks in advance.” He said city staff “waited for hours” to get details on traffic mitigation and ticketing plans from the Sanders campaign. Instead, Montemayor said, Sanders’ team simply responded that it would choose a different venue.
Sanders and his team have made several accusations of bias against Democratic Party leadership and officials during the primary. Sanders has cast Clinton, a former first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state, as the establishment’s candidate. Last Tuesday, after California Gov. Jerry Brown endorsed Clinton, Sanders described the governor’s endorsement as evidence of the opposition he faces from party leaders.
“I will tell you that in every state that we have gone into, we have taken on the entire Democratic establishment,” Sanders said. “It’s not surprising to me that, you know, we will have the Democratic establishment supporting Hillary Clinton.”