Campaigning in Los Angeles for Proposition 64, the medical adviser to the financially embattled Lyndon H. LaRouche organization said Wednesday that sponsors plan to publicize their unorthodox view of AIDS by distributing more than a million leaflets to voters.
Circulation of the leaflets would be the first discernible sign that LaRouche's backers plan any large-scale effort to pass Proposition 64, which they sponsored for the ballot. They have relied so far on free media exposure and have opted not to match the opponents' spending on television ads.
Dr. John Grauerholz, the medical director of LaRouche's Biological Holocaust Task Force, said the leaflets would carry scientific claims that were deleted from the state's official voter pamphlet by a Sacramento County judge in August. The judge ruled that the claims, which dealt with the way the acquired immune deficiency syndrome virus is transmitted, are false and misleading.
Proposition 64 seeks to force reluctant public health officials to test widely for the AIDS virus, collect the names of anyone infected and bar them from schools and certain jobs. Legal analysts for the state say the initiative as written may not effectively change public health practices, but some health officials fear that they will be required to impose unneeded controls on AIDS victims.
The official ballot statement submitted by the sponsors argued that such an unprecedented step--forcing health officials to act against their medical judgment--was necessary because of the way that the AIDS virus is transmitted. They argued, in part, that the virus is easily given to others and that the possibility of insect transmission has been well established.
Most doctors and AIDS specialists, including all leading U.S. experts, say the virus is spread through some kinds of sexual contact, exchange of blood through needles and from mothers to their fetuses or newborns. They say that if AIDS was casually transmitted, there would be cases of doctors, nurses, other medical personnel and family members coming down with AIDS.
They say there is no danger of AIDS being passed by non-sexual contact in schools, restaurants, homes or elsewhere.
Grauerholz cited a study by Dr. Jean-Claude Chermann of the Pasteur Institute in Paris that detected genes from the AIDS virus in a variety of insects from Central Africa. However, Chermann stressed after the study was reported last month that all evidence points against insects passing the actual virus along to humans.
Grauerholz said Wednesday that the medical establishment hides the facts about AIDS for political reasons. Not only is insect transmission very possible, he said, but there is more evidence for AIDS being passed through the air and saliva than by heterosexual contact.
That is why, he said, that persons infected with the AIDS virus should be kept out of schools, food-handling establishments and any job, such as beautician or nurse, where there is close contact.
"I mean, I'm sure there are a number of people who were made up by Way Bandy who are a little upset right now," he said. Bandy was an internationally known makeup artist who died of AIDS in August.
Grauerholz said the leaflet is still being drafted and he did not know when it would be released. He also said sponsors probably will not mount any kind of a television campaign. He said it was probably unnecessary, given the free exposure that the measure has received.
Pressure on Finances
In any event, the sponsors' ability to wage a media campaign may be limited by increasing pressure on LaRouche finances.
Several firms affiliated with LaRouche, including Caucus Distributors Inc., which paid to place Proposition 64 on the ballot, face more than $21 million in contempt fines in Massachusetts, and the federal government took steps last week to collect the fines.
The fines were levied after the companies refused to turn over records to a federal grand jury investigating accusations that LaRouche's fund-raising activities include massive credit card fraud.
According to published reports, the president of Caucus Distributors recently sent a letter to creditors asking them to grant the group some leeway and alleging that the federal government is waging a political vendetta.
The Washington Post also said in its Sunday editions that LaRouche's operations were amassing unpaid debts in Leesburg, Va., the small town where LaRouche lives in a rented, heavily fortified compound and where many of his allied businesses are based.