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Broke Donor Gets Reagan Refund--and Advice

March 03, 1985|LYNN O'SHAUGHNESSY | Times Staff Writer

Gerald Colf, the man who went broke because he could not say no to the Republican Party, has received a $215 check and a little advice from President Reagan.

"Mr. Colf, I'm proud to have your approval and support, but you have done more than your share," Reagan wrote in a letter that arrived Friday. "Please ignore any more fund-raising letters."

Republicans and assorted conservative groups began bombarding Colf, an 84-year-old retired contractor, with pleas for money early last year. He started sending them checks, which apparently placed him on more computerized mailing lists.

Before the checks began bouncing last June, Colf managed to contribute $4,200 to 27 Republican and conservative causes ranging from the GOP Victory Fund to the Conservative Caucus.

Partial Success

Since then, Colf's granddaughter, Judy Kerrigan of Reseda, has been trying to get Colf's money back with only partial success. Colf, a resident of a Canoga Park retirement home, has received $1,600 in refunds.

Despite efforts to get him off the lists, he is still receiving appeals for money from political groups.

Reagan's letter explained that the President sent the $215 check because two groups to which Colf contributed a total of $215--Taxpayers for Reagan and the Reagan Agenda Fund--bore his name. The check was drawn from Reagan's personal account at the main Beverly Hills office of Bank of America.

Reagan also advised Colf not to open any more fund-raising letters and merely write "not known at this address" on the envelope. Reagan said this is the only way Colf could get his name erased from the mailing lists.

Wants to Keep It

Colf's family said Saturday that he was so thrilled to receive the check, he does not want to cash it. "I think he's the best there is," Colf said. "Ronald is right on his toes."

His daughter and granddaughter said Colf is partially deaf and sometimes incoherent. They said he, as a lifelong Republican, apparently felt obligated to send as much money as he could to the political groups, believing the Republicans had given him the job of keeping their coffers full.

"You've got to do what they say," Colf said when asked Saturday why he depleted his life savings for a political cause.

Kerrigan also received a letter from Reagan on Saturday. The President was responding to a recent letter in which she suggested that something be done to curb the avalanche of junk mail from political groups. Kerrigan, who described herself as a liberal Democrat, also wrote that she was offended by the strident and self-righteous tone of the solicitations.

Reagan sympathized with Kerrigan in his letter. "I share your feeling about the gloom and doom in much of the mail from the various fund-raisers now on the scene and wish they would take an affirmative tone . . . but remember my advice to your grandfather, there is always the wastebasket."

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