Followers of LaRouche Put AIDS Initiative on June Ballot
Followers of extremist Lyndon LaRouche have placed a new AIDS initiative on the California ballot that is nearly identical to Proposition 64, the measure soundly rejected by voters a year ago.
Secretary of State March Fong Eu announced Monday that initiative petitions turned in by the LaRouche followers, Khushro Ghandhi and Brian Lantz, carried signatures of 508,695 voters, about 100,000 more than required.
The initiative, which will appear on the June, 1988, ballot, is essentially the same as Proposition 64, spokesmen for Eu and Atty. Gen. John K. Van de Kamp said. It would require doctors and local health officials to report the names of AIDS patients and people who test positive for AIDS antibodies. Both AIDS patients and those with positive tests would be subject to quarantine laws, the official state summary of the measure says.
A year ago, health officials and gay groups joined in a campaign that spent nearly $3 million to defeat the LaRouche effort. Opponents said Proposition 64 was a thinly veiled attack on homosexuals by LaRouche, who has a long history of writings abusive to gays, and would only hurt efforts to find a cure for acquired immune deficiency syndrome. It was defeated by a 71% to 29% margin.
Petitions Declared Valid
Melissa Warren, a spokeswoman for Eu, said the latest petitions were declared valid after a random check of the signatures--but without ascertaining that the petitions themselves were properly circulated by California residents. “We have had no complaints,” Warren said Monday.
For more than a year, investigators have been looking into allegations that some signatures were forged on the Proposition 64 petitions. The investigation, which was started by Van de Kamp’s office and included a raid on LaRouche’s Los Angeles headquarters, also focused on reports that the petitions were circulated by hired out-of-state residents, in violation of state election laws.
Last February, after eight months, the case was turned over to Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Ira Reiner for further investigation. “It has been under investigation there for a considerable period of time,” Nelson Kempsky, chief deputy attorney general, said Monday.
Reiner aides said Monday that the probe has continued and that investigators traveled back East to wrap up questioning last week. “We think we’ll be able to have a decision by Thursday” on whether to prosecute, said Steve Sowders, the deputy in charge of Reiner’s Special Investigations Division.
State officials said they have received no complaints about the current petition signatures. In any case, the LaRouche followers were able to again gather sufficient valid signatures to qualify for the ballot.
LaRouche is a political extremist, based in Virginia and West Germany, who has filed papers to seek the 1988 Democratic Party nomination for President, his third run for the office. He is believed to have a cadre of fewer than 1,000 hard-core supporters spread around the country.
In October, 1986, 10 of his followers were indicted by a federal grand jury in Boston on a variety of fraud and obstruction of justice charges. LaRouche, who was not indicted, sent a telegram to President Reagan vowing to resist if he were arrested, but later submitted to questioning.
This year LaRouche, 64, was himself charged with a federal count of obstruction of justice for allegedly directing the destruction of documents and hiding witnesses requested by the Boston grand jury. His trial has been delayed pending completion of the trial for former Ku Klux Klan leader Roy Frankhauser, who was charged with helping LaRouche hide a fraudulent scheme to finance his 1984 presidential race.
In California, his followers have run for hundreds of state, local and congressional offices with little success other than to win seats on Democratic and Republican party central committees.
Ghandhi and Lantz, who also sponsored Proposition 64, are longtime LaRouche associates who have run for office under the banner of his National Democratic Policy Committee.