Rep. Bobbi Fiedler (R-Northridge), indicted for an alleged attempt to lure state Sen. Ed Davis out of the Republican U.S. Senate primary with an offer of a $100,000 contribution, said today that she is a victim of a "ridiculous" charge and has done nothing wrong.
"I look forward to complete vindication through the legal process," Fiedler said at a morning press conference. The meeting with reporters followed Fiedler's appearance in Los Angeles Superior Court, where a judge unsealed an indictment naming the three-term Northridge congresswoman and her chief political adviser, Paul Clarke, in a scheme to persuade Davis to withdraw from the Senate race.
At the press conference, Fiedler and Clarke cast themselves as the subjects of a politically motivated prosecution.
'We Are the Victims'
Reading from a prepared text, Fiedler, 48, said: "This whole thing is ridiculous. I've done nothing wrong and I don't believe that anyone in my campaign has done anything wrong. We are the victims."
Clarke, 39, added: "What you are witnessing is one of the greatest political dirty tricks of all time. . . . (We) wish we could give you the whole story now, but our attorneys have advised us against saying anything.
"I will say, however, that we have some very desperate politicians who are trying something that will end up backfiring on them while we go on with our campaign and we will win the race for the United States Senate." Clarke refused to identify those politicians, and both he and Fiedler declined to answer in detail questions about the allegations made against them.
Election Code Rule
The indictment, returned Thursday by the Los Angeles County Grand Jury, charges Fiedler and Clarke each with one count of violating a section of the California Elections Code that makes it a felony, punishable by up to three years in state prison, to offer money to a candidate in an effort to persuade the candidate not to enter or to withdraw from a political contest.
During a brief appearance this morning at the Criminal Courts Building in downtown Los Angeles, attorneys for Fiedler and Clarke persuaded Judge Aurelio Munoz to postpone until Monday the pair's formal arraignment on the felony charges. At that appearance, Munoz said, he will consider their request to avoid formal booking, which includes the taking of fingerprints and mug shots, by the investigators for the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office.
No Bail Required
Fiedler, who was dressed in a dark skirt and blue jacket, and Clarke, who wore a dark charcoal suit, spoke only once during their court appearance, answering "yes" when Munoz asked whether the indictment listed their true names.
Munoz allowed them to remain free without posting bail.
The investigation of the alleged offer from the Fiedler campaign began last November, after a Davis staff member contacted Ventura County Dist. Atty. Michael D. Bradbury. The Davis staffer told Bradbury that the Davis campaign had been approached by a Fiedler supporter who had offered to make a large contribution, reportedly $100,000, to retire Davis' campaign debt if Davis would agree to withdraw from the race for the GOP Senate nomination.
Conflict of Interest
Bradbury, an active Davis supporter, said he referred the case to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office on Nov. 15, largely because of the conflict of interest involved. Bradbury also said he later determined that the alleged offer took place in Los Angeles County, outside his jurisdiction.
The case was presented to the Los Angeles County Grand Jury over four or five days, beginning about two weeks ago, by Deputy Dist. Atty. Candace J. Beason of the office's Special Investigations Division. Seven witnesses testified, including at least one Davis staff member and an investigator for the district attorney's office.
A transcript of the grand jury proceedings that resulted in the indictment will remain sealed for at least 10 days.
Beason and her supervisor, Head Deputy Dist. Atty. Steven A. Sowders, refused today to discuss the evidence against Fiedler and Clarke.
Sowders, however, bristled at the suggestion that his office had tried to entrap the Fiedler camp.
"We were very careful and tried to be as fair as we possibly could in our approach to this," Sowders said, "verifying every step of the way that what we were doing was correct and that we were going in the right direction. . . .
"We can document everything we did. There was no bullying and no untoward tactics used toward anybody in this case."
Fiedler formally entered the Republican U.S. Senate primary on Jan. 6 of this year. She was first elected to Congress in 1980, when she defeated 20-year Democratic Rep. James Corman by 752 votes. Her 21st Congressional District in the San Fernando Valley includes parts of Woodland Hills, Northridge, Granada Hills and Sunland-Tujunga.
On Board of Education
She was an early organizer of the anti-busing movement in Los Angeles and was elected to the Los Angeles Board of Education in 1977.
Davis, 69, former chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, was elected to the state Senate in 1980 and reelected in 1984. The Valencia senator's 19th District includes parts of Santa Barbara, Ventura and Los Angeles counties. He entered the Republican U.S. Senate primary in February, 1985.
The other announced candidates for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination are Claremont Prof. Bill Allen; Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich; Rep. William E. Dannemeyer of Fullerton; former Los Angeles television commentator Bruce Herschensohn; economist Arthur Laffer, Rolling Hills Estates; Assemblyman Robert W. Naylor of Menlo Park, and Rep. Ed Zschau of Los Altos.