SACRAMENTO — Assemblyman Don A. Sebastiani (R-Sonoma), who previously had said he would run for lieutenant governor, changed his course on Monday and announced his candidacy for state controller.
Sebastiani, 33, besides being a legislator for the last five years, is board chairman and chief executive officer of the Sebastiani winery, eighth largest in the state.
The outspoken GOP conservative charged Monday that Democratic Controller Ken Cory's 11 years in office have been "riddled with investigations and scandals." He also contended that Cory's activities have been "repeatedly scrutinized" by the FBI and other law enforcement agencies.
Holding up old newspaper clippings about Cory for television cameras, Sebastiani asked: "Can Ken Cory really be trusted with our tax money? Mr. Cory's record says, 'No.' "
The newspaper stories dealt with such things as Cory's association with Dr. Louis J. Cella, a 1974 campaign contributor who was convicted of fraud for bilking Medi-Cal and Medicare, and with Cory's more recent vote for a $50-million loan in State Teacher Retirement System funds to a financially shaky West Texas oil-drilling venture.
"California deserves a controller who is above suspicion," Sebastiani said. "Unfortunately, Mr. Cory is continually under clouds of it."
Asked for comment, Cory spokesman Tom Moore said, "Ken's reaction is that he (Sebastiani) has got most of his facts wrong, and the allegations aren't worth responding to. He (Sebastiani) is an unknown and the only way for him to get any publicity is to dredge up those old stories."
Sebastiani will be competing for the Republican nomination for controller against Dan Stanford, who resigned in December as chairman of the state Fair Political Practices Commission. But Sebastiani said he plans to concentrate on Cory rather than Stanford in his campaigning.
Stanford, in response to Sebastiani's announcement, said a number of people have told him they think the legislator would be a "serious liability" to Gov. George Deukmejian's reelection because of his voting record and public comments.
Sebastiani has been a consistent "no" vote on most legislation, particularly spending bills. He also has received some adverse publicity for remarks such as one expressing support for sending female astronauts into space "as long as they have a one-way ticket."
Hayakawa Backs Stanford
Stanford announced Monday that he has been endorsed by former U.S. Sen. S. I. Hayakawa (R-Calif.). Former President Gerald R. Ford is co-chairman of his statewide advisory committee, he noted.
Sebastiani said he decided to drop out of the lieutenant governor's race because he wanted to avoid a divisive, expensive GOP primary fight that might reduce the chances of defeating Democratic Lt. Gov. Leo McCarthy in the fall. Former Lt. Gov. Mike Curb, Sen. H. L. Richardson (R-Glendora) and Orange County Supervisor Bruce Nestande are expected to compete for the GOP nomination.
In 1983, Sebastiani sponsored a ballot initiative to overturn the Democratic-controlled Legislature's 1982 reapportionment of legislative and congressional districts, but the measure was ruled unconstitutional by the state Supreme Court before it could reach the voters.