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Fiedler-Davis Accusations

February 03, 1986

Having followed with astonishment the news of Bobbi Fiedler's indictment, I feel compelled to voice my opinion. I do so as a constituent of both her and Ed Davis, and as the Libertarian Party candidate who ran against her for Congress in 1982.

While I obviously disagree with Fiedler on many issues, I have never had any doubts about her integrity. So "astonishment" is probably a mild description of my reaction when the news first broke. The idea that she'd try to lure Davis not only made no political sense, it also seemed totally out of character.

More recent news reports paint a much different picture, in which Fiedler followed the common practice (among both Democrats and Republicans) of offering to help pay off a defeated opponent's campaign debts. Why else would she make the offer unless she thought Davis had already decided to throw in the towel? If Davis' prospects for the Republican nomination still seemed viable, then a $100,000 offer would be a joke (it wasn't even a personal sum that Davis himself would benefit from). After all, each candidate is going to spend millions in pursuit of the prize of the U.S. Senate seat.

We are left to decide between two competing interpretations:

1--Davis' theory is that the Fiedler camp, although fat with money, was already desperate. It therefore decided to persuade front-runner Davis into dropping out in Fiedler's favor, for $100,000.

2--Fiedler's theory is that the Davis campaign was in financial trouble. So it hit on the desperate tactic of entrapping Fiedler with an obscure law, both to get Fiedler out of the way and to rejuvenate the Davis nomination bid.

If the first interpretation was the true one, it seems far more likely that the Davis camp would have ended the matter quietly with a polite "no". After all, why make political enemies and risk having bad publicity rub off on them?

My own conclusion is that the second interpretation seems much more plausible. Money is truly the mother's milk of politics: The candidate sinking into debt has greater reason to be desperate than the candidate with a big bank account. And desperation combined with ambition can be a very dirty mixture.

DANIEL WIENER

Simi Valley

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