Tonight's Top 10 List: Who Made the Most of Fat Cat Friendships?

TIMES STAFF WRITERS

IN THE MONEY: Four San Fernando Valley state lawmakers recently made the top 10, the California Common Cause top 10, that is--a dubious distinction in some quarters. The political watchdog group annually lists the state's 10 biggest political fat cats and the legislators who benefited most from their generous campaign contributions.

During the most recent campaign season (1993-94), Common Cause reported that ex-senator David Roberti, Sen. Herschel Rosenthal (D-Los Angeles) and Assemblymen James Rogan (R-Glendale) and Bill Hoge (R-Pasadena) were among the top 10 recipients from the top 10 contributors.

Roberti, who successfully beat back a recall election in April, 1994, but was forced by term limits to resign in December, received $125,246 from seven of the state's 10 largest contributors. Roberti's biggest contribution--$51,000--came from the California Trial Lawyers Assn., according to the Common Cause report released this week.

Rogan was the second-biggest beneficiary of the top 10's largess. Rogan, who is preparing to run for the congressional seat now held by Carlos Moorhead (R-Glendale) got $80,125 from the top 10 givers, including $41,125 from the Allied Business PAC, the conservative political action committee founded by state Sen. Rob Hurtt (R-Garden Grove).

Hoge got $60,378 from the top 10, his largest contribution ($31,628) also coming from Allied. Finally, Rosenthal, who now occupies the seat formerly held by Roberti, got $52,850 from the top 10, including $13,250 from the California Optometrists PAC.

Other Valley lawmakers and what they got: Assemblywoman Barbara Friedman (D-North Hollywood), $27,802; Sen. Cathie Wright (R-Simi Valley), $18,617; Assemblyman Richard Katz (D-Sylmar), $18,310; Assemblywoman Paula Boland (R-Granada Hills), $12,512; Assemblywoman Sheila Kuehl (D-Santa Monica), $7,131.

Standing alone in abstinence was Sen. Tom Hayden (D-Santa Monica). The independently wealthy Hayden, who made campaign finance reform the centerpiece of his quixotic 1994 gubernatorial bid, received no money at all from the top 10 contributors.

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FLIPPER FLAP: Katz may be keeping mum about what he plans to do after term limits take his job away next year. But he's been outspoken about dolphins. Last Wednesday, Katz was honored at Gadfly II (in case you didn't know, that's the International Dolphin Summit) in Seattle for his sponsorship of pro-dolphin legislation.

Specifically, Katz is pushing for legislation that would ban the display of any dolphin (or whale, seal, porpoise or sea lion) that had been captured in the wild. The legislation has been stymied for two years by Anheuser-Busch, the makers of Budweiser beer. Why? Because they own Sea World, an enterprise built on the backs of captive seagoing animals.

If the Budweiser folks' opposition proves insurmountable, Katz is talking about taking his crusade directly to the voters. That would be reminiscent of the assemblyman's successful 1990 initiative to protect mountain lions.

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BANK ON IT: There was a time when local lawmakers would celebrate all the aerospace dollars--and jobs--they helped bring back from Washington. With the Cold War over and the federal budget tight, that time may have come and gone. Now, Rep. Anthony C. Beilenson (D-Woodland Hills) is touting what may be the flip-side of those glory years--the creation of a new bankruptcy court.

The U.S. Bankruptcy Court will open a San Fernando Valley division office in Warner Center in Woodland Hills next summer. It will serve residents of the Valley as well as Calabasas, Topanga and Malibu.

Beilenson said in a prepared statement that he worked with the Bankruptcy Court and the General Services Administration in finding a West Valley location for the new court.

"I am glad that we were able to play a role in helping this move come about," Beilenson said. "I know it will be of great benefit to the hundreds of thousands of residents who now have to travel many miles to reach Bankruptcy Court offices."

With the Valley's economy still at a crawl, convenient access to Bankruptcy Court may be more important than ever.

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SECEDING FROM CONGRESS: When the Republicans didn't go along with Democratic requests to hold a week's worth of hearings on the proposed overhaul of Medicare, Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Los Angeles) and other Democrats on the House Commerce Committee walked out.

They then did what has become a new tactic of the Democratic minority--they held their own, renegade Medicare hearings, C-SPAN coverage and all.

But that's not to say that Waxman does not get along with Republicans.

In a more cooperative mode, he convened a group of Democrat and Republican colleagues last week to support President Clinton's crackdown on cigarette smoking among children.

"We are joined together in this fight to insist that the regulations dealing with children and smoking not be weakened, not be sidetracked," Waxman said. "The fight ahead won't be easy. Special-interest tobacco money is flowing to members of both parties of Congress as never before. But what we are doing is right, and what the public supports."

Joining Waxman were Reps. James V. Hansen (R-Utah), Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), Michael Castle (R-Del.) and Martin Meehan (D-Mass.); and Sens. Robert Bennett (R-Utah) and Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.).

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POST PETE: Gov. Pete Wilson's decision to withdraw from the Republican presidential sweepstakes has turned Rep. Howard P. (Buck) McKeon (R-Santa Clarita) into a man without a candidate.

McKeon was the area's only congressman to back Wilson's White House bid and signed on as co-chairman of the governor's California campaign.

Since Wilson's withdrawal, McKeon has been contacted by the campaigns of Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole (R-Kan.) and Sen. Phil Gramm (R-Tex.), but he has yet to commit his support to anyone.

"We still think Wilson would have made the best President," said Armando Azarloza, McKeon's press secretary. "We weren't surprised by his pulling out because his campaign never seemed to get off the ground."

At least McKeon has plenty of time to make up his mind and plenty of people to choose from. The California primary is scheduled for March 19, and nine major candidates are traversing the country seeking the GOP nomination: Dole, Gramm, former Tennessee governor Lamar Alexander, conservative commentator Pat Buchanan, Rep. Robert Dornan (R-Garden Grove), publisher Malcolm (Steve) Forbes Jr., conservative activist Alan Keyes, Sen. Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.) and Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.).

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ADAMANT ADAM: Some might call it a Sisyphean task but attorney Adam Schiff will again try to gain a foothold for Democrats in the Glendale-Burbank area.

Schiff announced Thursday that he will enter the Democratic primary for the seat currently held by retiring Republican state Sen. Newton R. Russell. Schiff's last outing, it may be recalled, targeted Pat Nolan's Assembly seat in 1994. He lost that bid twice: once when he ran in the special election to fill Nolan's unexpired term, and again in the regular election to the new term.

Both times, defeat came at the hands of James Rogan.

In his announcement, the 35-year-old Schiff, a former federal prosecutor, repeated the theme of his 1994 campaign--calling for an end to the partisan squabbling in Sacramento. "I will work for bipartisan solutions to the state's public safety, education and economic problems and bring a results-oriented approach to lawmaking."

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