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Prop. 103 Backers Seek Probe of Mailing

Times Staff Writer

Coordinators of the Proposition 103 campaign have asked U.S. postal inspectors and the FBI to investigate why they received such a tiny return on a pre-election fund-raising mailing of 1.5 million pieces.

Bill Zimmerman, political consultant to the heavily indebted campaign, said that based on a test mailing sent out two months in advance of the full mailing, at least $500,000 should have been received in contributions from the full mailing.

Instead, less than $30,000 came back, too great a shortfall to be statistically explainable, according to Zimmerman and direct mailer Ken Coplon.

Zimmerman and Coplon said in an interview that they have told postal authorities that they suspect that either most of the mailing never was delivered, or the returns were somehow diverted. They asked people giving to the Proposition 103 campaign to notify the campaign if their checks were never cashed.

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Official Confirms Complaint

L. V. Ellis, assistant inspector in charge of the Postal Service’s Los Angeles office, confirmed that a complaint had been lodged and that an inquiry has been initiated.

A spokeswoman for the Chicago firm that prepared the mailing, Comp Mail Systems, Inc., said this week, “The mailing did go out, and we do have the signed postal receipts.” But Zimmerman and Coplon suggested that investigators should examine the validity of these receipts, or look into the possibility that the mailing was lost in the postal system.

Zimmerman and Coplon said that in August a test mailing of 95,305 pieces was sent out to people who had given in the past to other mail solicitations from liberal organizations. The response rate to this mailing was 2.71% and the amount received was $38,845, or $407.59 for every 1,000 pieces of mail sent.

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Based on this return, which was about twice what the mailing had cost, the Proposition 103 campaign decided to send out 1,501,760 pieces of mail in October, using the same kinds of preferred liberal donor lists.

But the response rate on that mailing was a paltry 0.13%. Only $28,736 was realized in all, or $19.13 for every 1,000 pieces of mail sent.

The more than $200,000 cost of the mailing was paid by Coplon, who is now trying to recoup the money by sending a second large mailing on behalf of the Proposition 103 campaign. That campaign, which is about $600,000 in debt on total expenses of about $2.3 million, is not liable for Coplon’s losses, but he will have first call on any money received until his costs have been reimbursed.


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