Opinion: Giuliani allies keep pushing controversial state initiative


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With friends like Rudy Giuliani has in California, his enemies don’t need to go out of their way to cause him headaches with federal election officials.

We have noted before that one of the main bankrollers for Giuliani’s presidential campaign, Paul Singer, heavily financed the initial push to get on the state’s ballot an initiative that could help a Republican win the White House next year. Also, Anne Dunsmore, who until September was Giuliani’s deputy campaign manager in charge for fundraising, recently took over money chores for the ballot measure.


Friday, the Giuliani link to the initiative grew stronger. A key backer of the measure to alter California’s winner-take-all system of awarding electoral votes sent an e-mail urging Giuliani backers to sign petitions to place it on the ballot.

The missive, obtained by The Times’ Dan Morain, is addressed, ‘Hello Fellow Rudy Supporter!’ Its author, Tony Andrade, is a Republican activist who helped draft the electoral college initiative. Previously, he was among those who helped place the ultimately successful recall of Gov. Gray Davis on the ballot in 2003.

Democrats battling the electoral college measure already have filed complaints with the Federal Election Commission and U.S. Justice Department alleging the Giuliani campaign is behind the initiative. If true, ...

that would be a violation of federal election law, which prohibits such coordination.

Chris Lehane, a Democratic activist who is organizing the campaign to block the measure, said of the Andrade e-mail: “It sounds like something that the Federal Election Commission and Department of Justice will be very interested in seeing.”

Maria Comella, spokeswoman for Giuliani’s White House bid, previously has stressed that neither he nor his campaign has had anything to do with pushing the ballot initiative.

While some of the politicos working on the initiative have acknowledged that they back Giuliani, they also have stressed that they are not an official part of his campaign. Thus, they are free to get involved in any side campaign, including the California initiative.

Andrade did not respond to requests for comment Friday about the e-mail in which he invokes Giuliani’s name. But some of his allies in the fight for the ballot measure clearly were uncomfortable with his tactic.


Veteran GOP strategist Ed Rollins, who is overseeing the attempt to put the initiative before voters, distanced himself from Andrade’s note.

“None of us has anything to do with any [presidential] campaign; we understand the law very, very well,” Rollins said. Pledging to try to “make sure that [the e-mail] gets stomped,” Rollins added, “We need to be very sensitive to the fact that people have speculated that this is part of the Giuliani campaign.”

Under the proposed initiative, California would change its method of allocating its trove of 55 electoral votes from the winner-take-all system -- which, given the state’s current political complexion, favors Democrats -- to apportioning the electoral votes based on the outcome of the presidential race in each congressional district. Republicans now hold 19 of the state’s House seats, so presumably the GOP nominee could emerge from California with at least some electoral votes.

In his e-mail, Andrade quoted Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, who earlier this week held a news conference to issue his latest denunciation of the initiative. Dean, Andrade noted, said there is no way that a Democrat can win the White House without capturing all of California’s 55 delegates.

(Dean exaggerates somewhat, of course; a Democrat who sweeps states that have been competitive in recent elections could afford to give up a handful of electoral votes from California. But obviously, the party doesn’t want to do that, especially since virtually every other state uses the winner-take-all system.)

Andrade’s e-mail included a link to the petition to qualify the initiative and urges backers to sign it and get 10 other registered voters to do the same. The deadline is Nov. 13 to submit 434,000 valid signatures to place the measure before voters in June 2008.

-- Don Frederick