Orange County Elections : It’s Hoffman vs. Sumner, Badham vs. Rosenberg at TV Taping : KOCE’s May 29 Election Special Is Highly Charged
LaRouche Democrat Art Hoffmann contended Monday that the write-in candidacy of Orange County Democratic Party Chairman Bruce Sumner, his opponent in the 40th District congressional primary, was “being pushed by organized crime circles.”
The charge came during the taping of a campaign debate by KOCE-TV, Channel 50, Orange County’s public television station, during which candidates for the congressional seat frequently traded angry accusations.
For the record:
12:00 AM, May. 21, 1986 For the Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday May 21, 1986 Orange County Edition Metro Part 2 Page 3 Column 2 Metro Desk 2 inches; 38 words Type of Material: Correction
Due to an editing error, the name of a candidate in the 40th Congressional District Democratic primary race was misspelled in a headline and photo caption accompanying a story in Tuesday’s Orange County edition. The correct spelling of the candidate’s name is Art Hoffmann.
Hoffmann, a Santa Ana technical writer, said officials in Sumner’s campaign have “been associated for the past 20 years with organized crime figures. . . . “
Sumner staunchly denied Hoffman’s charges, dismissed them as absurd and characterized the remarks as “a McCarthy-type attack.”
He added: “Mr. Hoffmann’s opening statement indicates why you should write in my name” rather than vote for Hoffmann, the only Democrat listed on the ballot.
‘Wild, Weird, Bizarre’
Sumner said that the philosophy of Leesville, Va., presidential candidate Lyndon LaRouche and his followers was not only “wild, weird, bizarre, but also dangerous. And the best evidence I have so far is Mr. Hoffmann himself.”
The taping, which featured Hoffman, Sumner and three other candidates in the 40th congressional race, took place at the public television station based in Huntington Beach. The election special was taped Monday but is to be aired May 29.
Sumner, a retired judge and former state assemblyman, began running as a write-in candidate in late March after county Democrats discovered to their dismay that Hoffmann was unopposed on the June 3 ballot and might likely become the party’s standard bearer after the election.
Sumner’s honorary chairman, James Roosevelt, a former California congressman and son of former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, interviewed after the show, also disputed Hoffmann’s allegation that Sumner’s campaign officials are connected to organized crime.
“I wouldn’t dignify it with a comment, considering the source. It’s just as wild as anything else he says,” Roosevelt said.
Sources of Information
Hoffmann said later that he had not seen any documents confirming the Sumner campaign’s alleged ties to organized crime but that his information came from “people back East” and also from a reporter in Los Angeles who works for LaRouche’s newspaper, the Executive Intelligence Review.
Mainstream Democrats around the nation consider LaRouche, who is running for president in 1988, a danger to their party. His platform includes quarantining AIDS victims, bolstering steel production and a laser-defense system.
Hoffman and Sumner’s remarks were only part of the morning’s fireworks.
Also appearing on the half-hour KOCE show--and debating for the first time in the campaign--were five-term incumbent Rep. Robert E. Badham (R-Newport Beach), Badham’s Republican challenger Nathan Rosenberg and Peace and Freedom candidate Steve Sears.
Early in the show there were angry exchanges between Badham and Rosenberg, with Rosenberg attacking Badham for allegedly missing votes and spending campaign funds improperly. Badham meanwhile defended his performance and his ties to President Reagan and said his campaign expenses were approved by the Federal Elections Commission, the House Ethics Committee and his own local support group, Badham Boosters.
KOCE host Jim Cooper and LaRouche Democrat Hoffmann also wrangled briefly as Cooper tried to read an apparently anti-Semitic article by LaRouche that claimed the Holocaust was fiction and Hoffmann repeatedly interrupted, denying that either he or LaRouche was anti-Semitic. Added Hoffmann: “My campaign secretary is Jewish.”
At one point, Rosenberg, 33, a former Young Republicans president making his first bid for elective office, also took a swipe at Orange County Republican Chairman Thomas A. Fuentes, calling him “a bagman” for former county Supervisor Ronald W. Caspers.
That remark came as KOCE host Jim Cooper asked Rosenberg about a Friday night incident that Fuentes had dubbed “Rosengate,” in which a Rosenberg campaign worker, using a fictitious name, was discovered at a Badham campaign meeting.
Rosenberg said his campaign worker “went on his own” to Badham headquarters, but then added, referring to Fuentes’ term “Rosengate”: “Coming from Ron Caspers’ bagman, I don’t feel bad about Mr. Fuentes’ comment.”
(From 1970 to 1974, Fuentes served as executive assistant to former Supervisor Caspers, who was lost at sea in a boating accident.)
Asked later what he meant by “bagman,” Rosenberg said. “I don’t mean anything. It means exactly what it means. Look it up in Webster’s dictionary. I said what I said.”
Told of Rosenberg’s comment, Fuentes laughed, “I guess as we get closer to June 3, the heat is turned up in campaigns and people get more and more excited.”
Fuentes, who has been angry at Rosenberg since March for challenging a Republican incumbent, also called Rosenberg’s remark “unfortunate.”
Fur Coat Charge
Rosenberg and Badham also tangled during the show when Rosenberg alleged that a member of Badham’s Boosters quit the support club after learning that Badham had allegedly spent some of his campaign money to buy a fur coat for his wife.
Badham called the allegation “a direct personal attack on my wife.”
Earlier in the taping, Badham conceded that during his 10 years in Congress he had on several occasions used campaign funds to purchase gowns for his wife for evening functions that they were required to attend. But he said he had never used campaign funds to buy a fur coat, and he called Rosenberg’s allegation “bunk.”
Rosenberg said after the show that he could not specifically document the purchase of a fur coat because reports filed with the Federal Elections Commission mention only overall clothing purchases for Badham’s wife without being specific. But he said that even though he could not verify the coat purchase, he was justified in mentioning it because he was quoting a former Badham Booster, now a Rosenberg supporter.
Adding to the rancorous tone, Badham campaign coordinator David Vaporean and Rosenberg’s campaign manager and brother, Harry Rosenberg, got into a shouting match after the taping, when Vaporean asked Harry Rosenberg whether his brother planned to apologize for Friday night’s “spying” incident.
The two argued in close quarters for several minutes about Badham’s record and whether Rosenberg or Badham showed proper respect for the congressional office.
Before the candidates left KOCE, Nathan Rosenberg did apologize to Badham for his campaign worker’s actions Friday night, Badham said Monday afternoon, but Rosenberg said his campaign had not condoned or authorized any volunteer to “spy.”
“He said, ‘We had nothing to do with it,’ ” Badham recounted. However, Badham then claimed that the Rosenberg camp had sent “another one (a spy)” on Sunday evening to a private Badham-for-Congress reception at the Park-Newport apartment complex. Harry Rosenberg countered that the reception was public and that their campaign volunteer had sat next to Badham’s wife, Anne, “with a tape recorder in public view. There was no spying. She (the volunteer) was not being covert.”
The television show, which will be aired May 29 at 6:30 p.m., was certainly “not dull,” KOCE staffers said after it was over. Throughout the show, Peace and Freedom candidate Sears, an accountant from Irvine, stayed out of the cross fire and politely explained his party’s desire to end use of nuclear weapons with negotiated settlements between the superpowers.
As the program ended, Sears said the morning’s arguments between Republican and Democratic candidates proved that “the big parties are dying out. They don’t even matter . . . Badham and Rosenberg are identical on the issues” even if they disagree on Badham’s record.
Sears said his was the only party to address the top issue this year--peace.