MEET SUSAN CARPENTER MCMILLAN
LA CRESCENTA -- While rushing around her campaign office looking for a
cigarette, Susan Carpenter McMillan is excitedly talking about a women’s
meeting she attended.
A few minutes later, the Republican 44th Assembly District candidate
sits calmly talking about her parents, Charles, a land developer, and
Emma McMillan, and growing up in Glendale.
“I was kind of raised to be the prim and proper Anglo girl and I was
kind of a rebel,” Carpenter McMillan says.
Further talk about her childhood brings out her sense of
As she tells of being repeatedly molested as a child by a teen boy her
parents had invited into their home through a program for inner-city
young people, Carpenter McMillan speaks with a confident voice.
“People will say, ‘What makes you a strong woman?’ I say, ‘Surviving
“Most women from my generation don’t want to talk about [abuse],” she
says firmly, almost shouting.
Though long silent about her sexual abuse, Carpenter McMillan, 51,
began finding her voice years ago and has since been making it heard.
Since then, she and seven other women in the mid-1980s founded the
Women’s Coalition, a privately funded, nonprofit public relations group,
Carpenter McMillan has gained national notoriety through her work as an
advocate for victims, some well-known.
She has battled to keep rapists and child molesters in prison and
played a major role in the 1996 passage of the state’s landmark chemical
castration law, which applies to twice-convicted sex offenders.
As a spokeswoman for Paula Jones -- the woman who sued President
Clinton for alleged sexual harassment stemming from a 1991 incident in an Arkansas hotel room -- Carpenter McMillan became a national celebrity.
Working with victims, she said, is almost a necessity for her.
“It’s just something I have to do,” she said. “To this day, I am
always drawn to the underdog. That is my passion.”
After years as an advocate, dealing with everything from negotiation
to legislation, Carpenter McMillan feels running for office is a natural
“I’d always wanted to run,” she said.
Cameo McMillan, 22, is used to seeing her mom in the spotlight and
defends her from those who accuse Carpenter McMillan of chasing fame.
“She’s not an act,” Cameo said. “What you see is what you get.”
What you get, does get peoples’ attention.
Carpenter McMillan is outspoken and flamboyant, something perhaps left
over from her days as a theater arts major at USC.
She said she dropped out of USC before getting her bachelor’s degree
to marry Bill McMillan (from whom she is now seperated) in 1973 and help
put him through law school.
Though she calls herself a “full-fledged college dropout,” and claims
she would never let Cameo and her younger daughter, Tara, get away with
the same, Carpenter McMillan said she has no regrets.
“I’m doing everything that I would ever want to do,” she said.
THE MCMILLAN FILE
* NAME: Susan Carpenter McMillan, Republican candidate for the 44th
* AGE: 51.
* RESIDENCE: Pasadena.
* FAMILY: Carpenter McMillan has two daughters, Cameo, 22, and Tara,
* POLITICAL EXPERIENCE: Since the mid-1980s, Carpenter McMillan has
been serving as an advocate and a spokeswoman for victims through the
Women’s Coalition, an activist group she helped found.