County Democrats celebrated April Fool’s Day on Tuesday by making fun of one of their own.
Their target was David Stein, a 37-year-old millionaire developer who is one of the top Democratic financiers in the county.
Stein took some heat from his friends at a combination political roast-Democratic fund-raiser held at the Ritz-Carlton.
About 20 politicians, Democratic activists, business associates and friends paid $1,000 apiece for the privilege of embarrassing Stein with good-natured jokes about his millions and his support for the presidential candidacy of Sen. Gary Hart (D-Colo.). Another 280 paid $75 each to have dinner and watch the show.
“Roastmaster” Charles Manatt, former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, set the tone for the evening by introducing Stein as “the Ferdinand Marcos of Orange County, Calif.” and saluting him for his “wasteful use of limousines.”
The event was a benefit for a two-month-old drive aimed at boosting Democratic voter registration in the county by the November elections.
Although the official start of the roast came with a 6:30 p.m. cocktail party, in practice the roast may have begun about 10 days earlier with a gaffe by several of its organizers.
When roast organizer Howard Adler’s committee mailed the invitations, they had included a list of “Invited Guest Roasters,” politicians, community leaders and friends of Stein who had been asked to roast him.
However, many of those on the list were not planning to attend. And eight Republican politicians and two newspaper editors were surprised and unhappy to find their names linked to a partisan political event.
In a letter of apology to the “Invited Guest Roasters,” Adler said his committee had not intended “to represent that any of the ‘Invited Guest Roasters,’ Republicans or Democrats alike, had either endorsed the event or committed to attend.”
Christopher Townsend, a roast organizer, said publicity about the problem had increased the turnout to 300 rather than an expected 200.