Friends and Supporters of Indicted GOP Aides Rise and Raise to Defense
Republican supporters of indicted aides to Assemblyman Scott Baugh and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher are trying to raise money for their legal defenses, ranging far and wide in their efforts to help the employees of the two Huntington Beach-based GOP legislators.
Baugh’s chief of staff, Maureen Werft, who faces two felony charges of illegally voting in the election, was feted at a GOP fund-raiser April 18 in Sacramento dubbed “Presumed Innocent II.”
“We just think it is such a ridiculous charge,” said Dave Gilliard, political consultant for Baugh and Assembly Speaker Curt Pringle, “and we are trying to help out.”
Werft did not return a call for comment.
A second effort has been launched for Rhonda Carmony, campaign manager for Rohrabacher, who was indicted in March on three felony charges for allegedly orchestrating the plan to put a decoy Democrat on a special election ballot last November. The move was intended to siphon votes from another Democrat.
Jim Righeimer, Rohrabacher’s campaign chairman, said the congressman has talked to Iran-Contra figure Oliver North about raising a substantial sum to help pay Carmony’s legal bills, which could total $50,000 to $60,000.
All work and no play: Easter break for Rep. Rohrabacher included a working vacation in the South Pacific. Rohrabacher took along Carmony and Paul Behrends, his legislative aide in the Capitol.
The official part of the trip was a weeklong congressional fact-finding mission to New Zealand to discuss privatization, a popular topic among the Republican leadership in Congress.
That part of the trip was augmented by a stop in Fiji by Rohrabacher and Carmony, Righeimer said.
The United States-New Zealand Council, a private organization based in the U.S., hosted the official eight-person American delegation--which included two other congressmen--at a cost of more than $7,000 per person. Rohrabacher paid Carmony’s bill himself, a spokesperson for the council said.
Neither Rohrabacher’s office nor Carmony returned phone calls for comment.
Carmony had to get approval from Superior Court Judge David O. Carter to make the international trip, since she has been released on personal recognizance after being indicted on March 21.
Rohrabacher told the Capitol newsletter Roll Call he paid for Carmony’s trip because “she’s under a lot of pressure, and she’s a good friend, and I thought that she would benefit by getting out of the very tense environment in Southern California and take a few days off.”
Making peace: The feud between political consultants Mark Thompson of Irvine and Wayne C. Johnson of Sacramento, whose clients did battle in the March 26 GOP primary for the 71st Assembly District, is over.
The animosity was ignited in early March when Thompson distributed a three-page mailer for his candidate, Bill Campbell of Villa Park. Johnson was outraged to discover the mailer was one he had crafted in 1994--and now was being used against his man, former Orange Mayor Jim Beam.
Campbell narrowly defeated Beam. Johnson, upset about the mailer and Thompson’s comments on the issue in newspapers, filed an ethics complaint with the county GOP. But the issue was settled amicably, Thompson said.
“I told him that since I was going to Mexico, I’d bring him back a box of Cuban cigars,” said Thompson, who delivered the goods April 2. “I’d say he did damn well.”
Marlboro moment: Last week was a good one for the tobacco industry in Sacramento. A bill making cigarette vending machines more accessible sailed through an Assembly committee. And a resolution urging Atty. Gen. Dan Lungren to sue the tobacco industry to regain state funds spent on people with tobacco-related illnesses died in the Assembly Rules Committee.
That committee is chaired by Speaker Curt Pringle (R-Garden Grove) and includes Assemblywoman Marilyn C. Brewer (R-Irvine). Both voted against it.
“[The resolution] was premature and unnecessary,” said Wendy Weber, Pringle’s communications director.
Brewer, who received a $4,000 campaign contribution from Philip Morris, said she thought such lawsuits are not the job of government.
No hard feelings: 3rd District supervisorial candidate Todd Spitzer was as surprised as anyone when the Broadway Group issued a recent press release saying it would no longer handle his campaign.
Spitzer, a deputy district attorney from Brea who is in a November runoff with Assemblyman Mickey Conroy (R-Orange), said he had a contract with the Santa Ana political consultants for his primary campaign and was still deciding whether to employ the company through November.
“I’m not ready to make a legal or financial commitment to any political consultant right now,” Spitzer said.
Spitzer said his hesitation had nothing to do with the work the firm had done for him in the primary, in which he placed second among eight candidates. What did play a minor role in his decision to shop around was the fact that the firm has primarily handled Democratic candidates.
“I found that out during my campaign,” Spitzer said.
In the release, the firm’s Dennis DeSnoo said his group and Spitzer differed over basic strategy.
* Monday: Former Vice President Dan Quayle will be the guest speaker at a Campaign for America fund-raiser from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Village Crean in Newport Beach. Information: (714) 556-8555.
* Thursday: The Orange County Federation of Republican Women will have its May meeting at 10:30 a.m. at the Turnip Rose, 300 S. Flower St., Orange. Information: Carol Wolfert at (714) 529-6030.
* Friday: Assembly Speaker Curt Pringle (R-Garden Grove) and state Sen. Rob Hurtt (R-Garden Grove) will be the guest speakers at the Republican Party’s breakfast with local elected officials at 7:30 a.m. at the Garden Grove Hyatt Alicante. Information: (714) 556-8555.
Compiled by Times staff writer Len Hall, with contributions from Times staff writers Peter M. Warren and Gebe Martinez.
Politics ’96 appears every Sunday. Items can be mailed to Politics ‘96, 1375 Sunflower Ave., Costa Mesa, CA 92626, or faxed to (714) 966-7711.
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