Korenstein Asks IRS Inquiry Into Fundamentalists

Times Staff Writer

Los Angeles school board member Julie Korenstein said Friday that she will ask the Internal Revenue Service to investigate a tax-exempt fundamentalist group to see if it is illegally using donations to defeat her.

Korenstein, who faces eight challengers for her West San Fernando Valley seat, called the California Coalition of Traditional Values a group of “right-wing fanatics.”

Coalition members said earlier this week that they have targeted Korenstein for defeat because of her support of a counseling program, called Project 10, for gay and lesbian students as well as her support for the district’s three school-based health clinics that dispense birth control devices and information.


“Their goal is to impose their narrow extremist morality upon our nation by force of law,” Korenstein told a news conference at her district office. She said involvement by the group in the campaign “goes against the separation of church and state.”

Coalition founder Louis Sheldon said Friday that the Orange County-based organization, which opened an office in Van Nuys last year, has not violated any laws and plans only to provide information on candidates to members of more than 50 fundamentalist congregations in the West Valley. Sheldon, a registered Sacramento lobbyist and veteran demonstrator against gay rights, dismissed claims that groups outside the Valley will interfere in the election.

“We can only educate those in the Valley; we cannot endorse or oppose,” Sheldon said.

Korenstein called for all candidates to reject involvement with the coalition. She said support of the coalition is more likely to hurt than help candidates in the race.

But candidate Barbara Romey said she hopes to gain from the group’s involvement in the race. Earlier this week, Romey said she believed that West Valley constituents favor a return to “traditional values.”

“If anyone picks me because they like my principles and ethics, then I want their support,” Romey said.

Sheldon said he met Romey during a protest against Project 10 and believes that she “has more interest in family values” than Korenstein. He said he has not met Korenstein.

Romey lost to Korenstein in a bitter 1987 campaign to complete the term of board member David Armor, who resigned.

She opposes both the Project 10 counseling program and the dispensing of birth control at school health clinics.

Korenstein on Friday defended her support of the two programs. Counseling is needed for students facing a variety of adolescent problems, including gangs, drugs and questions of sexual preference, she said. She supports the health clinics, including one at San Fernando High School, because parental consent is required before students can obtain birth control devices, she said.

Sheldon said his group has not targeted school board President Roberta Weintraub, the East Valley board representative who also supports the two programs and is up for reelection in April, because her challengers do not share the group’s view as closely as Romey does.