A spokeswoman for U.S. Rep. Claude Pepper (D-Fla.) says that Assemblyman Willard H. Murray (D-Paramount) failed to obtain Pepper’s approval for an endorsement mailer sent to voters before last November’s election.
Rochelle Jones, Pepper’s press secretary, said on Tuesday she could not find “any record of a letter from Murray asking for an endorsement or from Pepper endorsing him.”
The names of Pepper and Sen. Alan Cranston (D-Calif.) appeared at the bottom of the mailer. But Roy Greenaway, Cranston’s chief of staff, said he had no knowledge of the California senator approving the mailer.
All Pictures Approved
Freshman Murray, whose campaign endorsements have been the target of mounting criticism, maintained Tuesday that “in each and every instance when we used anyone’s name or picture it was approved by that person.”
Murray said he went to Washington last June or July, had his picture taken with Pepper, a champion of Social Security and other federal programs for the elderly, and received Pepper’s oral endorsement.
Murray said he did not know whether Pepper approved the letter “word for word,” but added, “I assume he did.”
Former Assemblyman Paul E. Zeltner (R-Lakewood), whom Murray defeated for the 54th District seat, charged this week that about a dozen of Murray’s mailers, including the Pepper-Cranston piece, were unauthorized. He asked Atty. Gen. John K. Van de Kamp to launch an investigation into the letters, including one from the National Rifle Assn.
The gun lobby, which endorsed Murray, also has asked Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Ira Reiner to investigate the NRA endorsement letter, which it says was altered and mailed without the group’s authorization.
The Pepper-Cranston mailer was a four-paragraph, telegram-style letter that focused on Murray’s efforts on behalf of the elderly. Murray said it was sent to “a substantial portion of the district,” which includes Bellflower, Compton, Lakewood, Paramount and parts of Long Beach and Willowbrook.
In part, the mailer said Murray, a former aide to Rep. Mervyn Dymally (D-Compton), had “worked hard to block all attempts to slash funding from vital Social Security programs.”
The piece went on to warn voters: “Don’t be fooled by Paul Zeltner’s vicious lies.” It concluded with a strong recommendation to vote for Murray, with the names of Pepper and Cranston, who was identified as a congressman instead of a senator, printed at the bottom.
Jones, Pepper’s spokeswoman, said the feisty octogenarian congressman does not have “the slightest reminiscence” of Murray. Further, she said Pepper seldom endorses candidates in state races and has a policy against attacking his candidate’s opponent.
Denies Endorsement Inferred
“Lots of people have their picture taken with Pepper. That doesn’t constitute an endorsement,” she said.
Greenaway, Cranston’s spokesman, said he had no knowledge of the letter but said the senator has a policy against signing a piece attacking his candidate’s opponent.
Zeltner has previously questioned another Cranston letter sent out by the Murray campaign. That piece, which carried Cranston’s signature, assailed Zeltner as only caring about “big money and power brokers.”
Cranston’s office has previously said and Greenaway repeated Tuesday that the letter was not approved by the senator before it was mailed to voters. Greenaway said Cranston had sought changes in the piece before it was printed; some changes were made, but Murray’s campaign failed to obtain final clearance. Michael Berman, Murray’s campaign consultant, later apologized, Greenaway said.
“As far as I’m concerned, it’s a misunderstanding,” Greenaway added.
Murray dismissed questions about his mailers, saying, “I’m not running the 1988 election over.” He said that he does not intend to discuss specific allegations unless his opponents raise them in the 1990 campaign.