Angelides' Attack on Roberti

Democratic state treasurer candidate Phil Angelides has a 30-second TV commercial that attacks his opponent, state Sen. David A. Roberti (D-Van Nuys) for his anti-abortion rights stance.

* THE AD: The ad opens with a shot of anti-abortion protesters blocking a clinic, moves quickly to scenes of Dr. David Gunn's 1993 funeral after his murder at a Florida abortion clinic by an abortion protester, then flashes an image of Roberti on the screen. "Violent anti-choice extremists attack clinics," an announcer says. "A doctor murdered. But L.A. Sen. David Roberti refuses to vote to protect clinics, attempts to cut off funding, and writes a constitutional ban on abortion. Now Sen. Roberti wants to be treasurer, the office that provides funding for health care facilities. . . ."

* THE ANALYSIS: What does abortion have to do with the office of state treasurer? Among other duties, the treasurer chairs the California Health Facilities Financing Authority and votes on providing tax-exempt funding for hospital and clinic construction. But the board is one of dozens the treasurer sits on and has eight other voting members. While it is theoretically possible for a treasurer to pursue a political agenda on the panel, Roberti has vowed, if elected, not to.

Roberti says he was appalled at the fatal shooting of Gunn in Florida. He did refuse to vote in the state Legislature for a non-binding resolution voicing support for a 1993 federal act that condemned abortion clinic violence and the killing of Gunn. Roberti says he abstained from voting because no one provided him with a copy of the federal act. Angelides says copies were readily obtainable.

In 1986, Roberti led a drive on the Senate floor to cut off taxpayer support for family planning. But the ad's claim that Roberti wrote a constitutional ban on abortion reaches too far. Roberti did co-author a 1977 non-binding state resolution urging that the U.S. Constitution be changed to ban abortions. But it had no legal impact on the federal Constitution.

On Friday, Angelides unveiled another 30-second TV commercial. This one attacks Roberti for heading the Senate at a time when federal authorities convicted three senators on various charges of bribery, extortion, tax evasion or racketeering.

* THE AD: It flashes newspaper headlines on the screen alongside Roberti's picture. An announcer says, "The political scandal of the decade and Los Angeles state Sen. Roberti is in the middle of it. . . ." Viewers are told that Roberti "hand-picked three senators . . . even though . . . he knew of their sleazy reputations." The announcer reports that FBI recordings reveal more details about Roberti's role.

* THE ANALYSIS: Roberti headed the state Senate for 13 years, stepping down from his leadership post in January to run for treasurer. During eight of those years, the FBI conducted a sting investigation to ferret out political corruption and influence-peddling. Three senators were indicted and convicted, but Roberti was never charged. He did place those three in prominent positions or committee chairmanships, but says he knew nothing of their illicit activities. In the current, ongoing trial of Sen. Frank Hill (R-Whittier), Roberti's name came up in secret tape recordings, but the conversations suggested no wrongdoing on Roberti's part.

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