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Assemblyman Seeks Probe of GOP Use of State Computer

Times Staff Writer

Democratic Assemblyman Phillip Isenberg on Tuesday asked the state Fair Political Practices Commission to investigate whether Republican legislative aides illegally used public resources to assist his GOP campaign opponent.

Isenberg, from Sacramento, said his complaint was sparked by a Times report Tuesday that in the wake of last month’s FBI raids on Capitol offices, Assembly Republican staffers quickly purged state computer files of material that showed that they had been working on political races at taxpayer expense.

Among the material in the state computer, according to Republican legislative sources, was a brief memo outlining a campaign battle plan for Larry Bowler, a Sacramento County sheriff’s lieutenant who is Isenberg’s GOP opponent in the November election.

Meanwhile, Jack Horton, chief deputy of the legislative counsel’s office, said an official of the U.S. attorney’s office has met with Legislative Counsel Bion Gregory and questioned him about “our computer tapes.” The legislative counsel’s office helps oversee the Legislature’s computer operations.

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GOP legislative sources said that staffers in the Republican Assembly Caucus purged documents because they were concerned that the FBI might learn that they had conducted political operations on state time with state equipment, which could be illegal.

On the night of Aug. 24, the FBI searched the offices of Assembly Republican Leader Pat Nolan of Glendale and three other Los Angeles-area lawmakers. They and six others are subjects of a federal investigation.

Assemblyman Isenberg said the GOP staffers apparently “were running the Bowler campaign on public expense and at public time.” He also alleged that Bowler acted improperly by not stating on his campaign contribution report that he had received, in effect, a donation of taxpayer funds.

Richard Ross, Isenberg’s campaign manager, said, “It’s absolutely outrageous, particularly for someone in law enforcement, to be operating a covert political campaign.”

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Isenberg filed formal complaints with the FPPC against Bowler’s campaign and against Richard Temple, chief of staff for Assembly GOP Leader Nolan.


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