Gallegly Takes to the Air to Rebut TV Ads : Campaigns: Neither the congressman nor his opponent, Sang Korman, advertised on television when they faced each other in 1988.


In an unusual switch in campaign tactics, Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-Simi Valley) is planning an 11th-hour barrage of cable television commercials intended to rebut TV ads he says are vicious run by his primary-election opponent, Sang R. Korman.

Gallegly declined Tuesday to disclose most details of the commercials, including how much they will cost. But station officials said he has paid at least $14,800 for time on four cable systems in the 21st Congressional District, which spreads from northern and western portions of the San Fernando Valley into southern and central Ventura County.

Korman, a wealthy Korean-American developer, recently began airing a $120,000 series of three commercials--on cable and local network TV channels--that attack Gallegly’s voting record. Korman plans two more spots before the June 5 election, including one that criticizes Gallegly for his role in an internal FBI investigation of four Los Angeles-based agents, a campaign spokesman said.

Television ads are a new tactic for both candidates, neither of whom used them when they faced each other in the 1988 primary. Korman captured less than 14% of the vote in that race, despite spending $350,000, including $245,000 of his own money.


Los Angeles-area congressional candidates typically frown on commercials, especially on network TV channels, because of their high cost and scattershot impact. They normally prefer cheaper methods, such as direct-mail brochures, that can be targeted at individual voters.

Gallegly said his commercials will be financed primarily from donations brought in by an urgent fund-raising letter his campaign mailed to supporters last week. He has purchased enough air time between Tuesday and the primary for more than 800 spots.

“When someone is doing a vicious attack on you, the idea is to try to mitigate those untruths with some truths,” he said.

Korman angrily responded that his spots “totally disclose the truth of his voting record.”

In one Korman ad, Gallegly is criticized for voting to “give savings and loan associations free hand in their junk bond schemes"--a reference to Gallegly’s 1989 vote against legislation that would have prohibited federally insured S&Ls; from investing in bonds rated below investment grade.

A Gallegly spokesman said the congressman voted against the bill because he believed it “unfairly penalized solvent S&Ls; for making investments.”

Korman said he plans to begin airing another commercial attacking Gallegly for his role in an internal FBI investigation of four Los Angeles-based agents in 1987 and 1988. Korman has accused Gallegly of filing complaints against the agents that sparked the probe and lying to cover up his instigation of it. Gallegly denies filing any complaints.

GOP political consultant Paul Clarke said that although Korman’s attacks have hurt Gallegly politically, the damage isn’t severe enough for Korman to win. Clarke said Gallegly’s commercials were a prudent response to Korman’s attacks and may actually help him raise more money than he would have been able to had the race been less heated.

“I don’t want to sound cynical and say it’s manna from heaven, but from a fund-raising perspective, it gives Elton a reason to raise funds,” Clarke said.