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Lagomarsino Still Voicing Opinions--Via His Newsletter : Politics: The former congressman publishes the monthly missive to circulate his conservative views to friends and subscribers. Rep. Huffington is a favorite target.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Seated in the wood-beamed study of his oceanfront home, Robert J. Lagomarsino spends several hours each week poring over periodicals and jotting down his thoughts on yellow legal pads.

Once a month, the former congressman whittles down these writings for another issue of “Bob Lagomarsino, Report & Opinions,” a newsletter he mails to 300 friends and paying subscribers across Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.

The four-page report looks a lot like the newsletter Lagomarsino used to send his constituents during his 18 years in Congress, explaining his votes and extolling his accomplishments.

Now that he’s no longer in office, Lagomarsino fills it with his own personal brand of conservative insights into local politics and national affairs. He uses it as a platform to endorse candidates, applaud his friends and tweak the man who unseated him: Rep. Mike Huffington.

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“It has been very rewarding,” said Lagomarsino, 68, who lives in the gated community of Solimar, up the coast from Ventura. “The writing part is easy; it is kind of enjoyable.”

He has clearly had the most fun taking shots at Huffington (R-Santa Barbara), the transplanted Texas oil multimillionaire who spent $3.4 million in the 1992 Republican primary to bounce Lagomarsino from office.

During Huffington’s failed campaign for U.S. Senate this year, Lagomarsino offered this reason for refusing to support his fellow Republican:

“Money can buy a lot of things. But it can’t buy character or experience or know-how or dedication--or class, and it sure as hell should not be able to buy a U.S. Senate seat. . . . And we need someone who is not going to right away be running for President--or King (Really Queen and Consort)--of the world.”

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He also plucked words from other publications and ran them as the newsletter’s “Quotes of the Month” to comment on Huffington and his wife, Arianna, a noted biographer.

“Her brains, his money,” said one, quoting the Washington Post on the Huffingtons.

“I’m going to marry Jerry Brown. He’s a genius, a savior of the world. We’ll do important things together,” said another, quoting Arianna Huffington from an old Vanity Fair interview.

Lagomarsino said the newsletter has elicited a reaction from the Huffingtons, despite its limited circulation. “It apparently made them very mad, especially the thing about her interest in marrying Jerry Brown.”

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The quote came from an article in the mid-1980s when Arianna Huffington was briefly dating Jerry Brown and before she met her husband.

Answering an inquiry through spokesman John Nelson, Arianna Huffington called the remarks about Jerry Brown a “fictitious quote.”

“She never said that,” Nelson said. “If he is quoting Vanity Fair directly, then they got it wrong,” he said. “If he’s saying that upset her, that’s also fictitious.”

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Lagomarsino acknowledged he has gotten some flack for violating what Republicans call their 11th Commandment--Thou shall never speak ill of a fellow Republican.

But he pointed out Huffington was first to break the taboo in the 1992 Republican primary. At one point in the campaign, Huffington angered Lagomarsino and his supporters by questioning his allegiance to freedom and democracy because he helped a local company sell surveillance cameras to Communist China leaders after the brutal crackdown on dissidents at Tian An Men Square.

“He broke the mold on that commandment,” Lagomarsino said.

Huffington isn’t the only one to receive a lash from Lagomarsino’s pen. President Clinton attracts a fair share of criticism, as do other Democrats or members of the Clinton Administration: “The far left preachings and pronouncements of Clinton’s Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders turned off a lot of people.”

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But for the most part, Lagomarsino’s reports and opinions offer his unique perspectives on the world.

In the latest issue, for instance, he comments on everything from the Republican election sweep in November (he attributed it to the unpopularity of Clinton and his proposals) to an arcane international treaty on mining minerals from deep sea beds (a “socialist” scheme that should be sent to a watery grave), to the Democratic regime emerging in Albania, which was “not long ago, one of the most anti-American reclusive Communist dictatorships in the world.”

The newsletter also keeps his readers abreast of developments in his own life. One issue had a picture of “Bob’s Blondes,” his wife, Norma, and his yellow Labrador retriever, Missy Miller Lowenbrau.

Lagomarsino got the idea of the newsletter from his wife. “People kept asking us what we thought about what was going on. She said, ‘Why don’t you just do a newsletter?’ ”

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He said he originally protested the notion, believing it would be too much work. Later he agreed to launch the newsletter with the help of a staff member. That didn’t last long.

“I had some guy helping me and it turned out I was rewriting everything he did,” Lagomarsino said. “So I decided to write it all myself. Basically, I end up doing everything myself.”

So far, Lagomarsino has knocked out 14 monthly editions in a row and shows no sign of letting up.

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Lagomarsino said he would like to pick up a couple of hundred more subscribers so the newsletter will turn a profit. Some readers have renewed their subscriptions for another year, so he’s committed to continue writing at least that long.

Norma Lagomarsino doesn’t see an end in sight to her husband’s labor of love.

“He sits up in his study and he reads and writes and he loves it,” she said. “He reads everything he can get his hands on. He has an opinion about everything. Now, he is just a writing fool.”


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