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Supreme Court Campaign

December 15, 1985

Your newspaper is to be congratulated on its objective reporting in the article, "Computers Churning Out Anti-Bird Letters to Press." As you have explained, 65,000 people have received the computer-printed letter, which has been personalized for them to submit to their local newspaper. The mailing also asked for another contribution to the campaign, which is being run by the Butcher-Forde direct-mail group.

Californians need to understand that what is operating here is not only an ideological campaign to change the "outlook" of the court, that is, make it more "conservative" instead of being so "liberal" (the quoted words are intended to show that there are many interpretations of said words) but also a campaign to make money for Butcher-Forde.

As quoted in the December 1984 issue of California Journal (a nonpartisan, non-ideological analysis of California government and politics, according to their contents page), Bill Butcher explained that his firm earned $400,000 over a two-year period in the Proposition 36 campaign of the November, 1984, elections. Howard Jarvis was the firm's client and he and his committee spent $2.2 million to qualify Proposition 36 "Save 13" for the November, 1984, ballot. Jarvis today remains one of Butcher-Forde's most prominent clients and is involved in the anti-Bird campaign.

Another familiar name in California politics also involved in the direct mail business is H. L. Richardson. His firm, Computer Caging, was able to qualify Proposition 6, which was passed by a margin of nearly 2-to-1 in June 1982 and reduced California's inheritance tax. Richardson's firm received enough contributions from voters on its mailing lists to pay for the mailing and to retire the sponsoring Assemblyman Don Rogers' debt incurred from a previous try at qualifying the measure. (Again the source of this information is the December, 1984, issue of California Journal.)

In addition to good business, direct mail produces another plum at the end of a campaign--lists of persons who have given signatures and/or money and may be ready to work for the initiative in the coming campaign.

What's wrong with all of the above? Nothing at all. It's a way of actively involving concerned citizens in issues that might not get on a ballot. But we all need to understand that there are firms involved just to make money in the process. And when does the urge to make money overwhelm the honest citizen's concern?


Santa Monica

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