McCarthy ‘Corrects’ Curb Draft Allegation, but Won’t Apologize
Lt. Gov. Leo T. McCarthy on Monday refused a demand by Mike Curb that he apologize for claiming that Curb registered for the draft 18 months late, but said he would send his Republican opponent a “correction.”
Curb, challenging McCarthy to regain the office he vacated to run unsuccessfully for governor in 1982, had declared as “totally false” McCarthy’s allegation that he failed to register with the Selective Service for a year and a half after he turned 18. He insisted that McCarthy apologize and make a “public retraction.”
During the weekend, McCarthy’s campaign manager, Rose King, withdrew the charge, explaining to news organizations that the assertion was based on information provided by a Selective Service System official in Washington who “regrettably misspoke” himself.
King said the official mistakenly indicated that Curb had registered for the Vietnam War-era draft in July of 1964. She said she learned on Friday that Curb had been classified 1A at that time, meaning fit for military service.
Federal law prohibits release of the date a person registered with the Selective Service without the individual’s consent. Curb has maintained that “I have for all times complied with the Selective Service Act.”
King said she believed that the withdrawal of the charge was sufficient, and that a letter of apology to Curb was unnecessary. A few hours later, following a speech to a Veterans of Foreign Wars convention, McCarthy told reporters that “we think he (Curb) is right and (he) wasn’t a year and a half late.”
“The correction was entirely appropriate,” McCarthy said. But pressed on whether he also owed Curb an apology for making a false accusation, McCarthy replied, “I owe him a correction and that’s what he’ll get.”
He said he would send Curb a letter containing a correction, but at the same time would ask him to “clear up the confusion” on why Curb was reclassified from 1A to 1Y, a status that then had the effect of at least temporarily prohibiting an individual from serving in the armed forces for medical, mental or moral reasons except in times of war or national emergency.
Later Monday, McCarthy released copies of a letter he wrote to Curb, but it did not directly ask for clarification of Curb’s classification.
In his 1982 primary race against Curb, George Deukmejian used Curb’s reclassification as a major campaign issue. Curb has offered several reasons, but his critics insist that the explanations fell short and that the matter remains unclear.