In his continuing criticism of Gov. George Deukmejian’s handling of toxic wastes, Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley resurrected charges Thursday that some toxic waste contractors may have been granted special favors because of their past connection to lawyer Karl Samuelian, Deukmejian’s finance chairman.
At a press conference at the Willco Dump in Lynwood, Bradley said that “dirty money (is) buying favors.” However, he presented no direct evidence to make a connection between about $248,000 in campaign contributions to Deukmejian from 70 toxic waste companies and contracts awarded to a firm once represented by Samuelian.
The firm that Bradley said benefited from Samuelian’s influence, Andrew Papac & Sons, has not contributed to a Deukmejian campaign for governor, according to a Times computer check of campaign contributions.
‘They Go Hand in Hand’
Bradley, standing beside a steel drum turned upside down to make a podium, said, “You can’t disassociate Mr. Samuelian from George Deukmejian; they go hand in hand. Their fund raising has produced this money and then Mr. Samuelian (was) helping to get contracts or helping to represent them.”
He charged that Deukmejian “has conducted the toxic waste program in such a horrendous fashion that the health of the people of the state of California is at risk. . . . The inference of somebody being influenced by campaign contributions . . . is the thing I’m concerned about.”
Larry Thomas, Deukmejian campaign director, Thursday called Bradley’s attacks on Deukmejian’s fund raising and the toxic waste program “pathetic. It really indicates that the mayor, in an effort to get some momentum in his campaign, has made a conscious effort to take the low road.” Samuelian, Thomas added, no longer represents any toxic waste company interests.
Samuelian two years ago represented Papac’s El Monte firm that was awarded a contract to clean up the Stringfellow acid pits near Riverside. The firm, which submitted the lowest bid, at the time had no experience in hauling contaminated liquids and was not licensed to haul toxic waste. Six months later, the state canceled the Papac contract amid allegations that the hauler had violated state rules for transporting hazardous Stringfellow waste.
Papac said he did not violate state rules, although the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency last year was highly critical of the contracts awarded by the state for hauling hazardous waste.
Samuelian said two years ago that Papac received no special treatment and added that he never discussed his clients with “the governor or anybody else in the governor’s office.”
When Papac was sued over a toxic waste cleanup dispute at the Willco Dump by the state Department of Transportation (Caltrans), he countersued. Samuelian said he tried unsuccessfully at the time to persuade transportation officials not to file suit against Papac.
Points to Problems
After reciting Samuelian’s former ties to Papac and pointing to other cleanup problems at two other Southern California sites, Bradley said the governor “ought to give the $248,000 back.” He said Deukmejian received the money from what Bradley called “toxic polluters.”
When Bradley campaign officials first raised the issue of the $248,000 earlier this week, they called the 70 companies that made the contribution “toxic waste companies.” When asked about his term “polluters” Thursday, Bradley replied, “They’re the ones connected with toxic waste problems in California.”