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Orange County Elections : It's Hoffman vs. Sumner, Badham vs. Rosenberg at TV Taping : KOCE's May 29 Election Special Is Highly Charged

May 20, 1986|LANIE JONES | Times Political Writer

LaRouche Democrat Art Hoffmann contended Monday that the write-in candidacy of Orange County Democratic Party Chairman Bruce Sumner, his opponent in the 40th District congressional primary, was "being pushed by organized crime circles."

The charge came during the taping of a campaign debate by KOCE-TV, Channel 50, Orange County's public television station, during which candidates for the congressional seat frequently traded angry accusations.

Hoffmann, a Santa Ana technical writer, said officials in Sumner's campaign have "been associated for the past 20 years with organized crime figures. . . . "

Sumner staunchly denied Hoffman's charges, dismissed them as absurd and characterized the remarks as "a McCarthy-type attack."

He added: "Mr. Hoffmann's opening statement indicates why you should write in my name" rather than vote for Hoffmann, the only Democrat listed on the ballot.

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday May 21, 1986 Orange County Edition Metro Part 2 Page 3 Column 2 Metro Desk 2 inches; 38 words Type of Material: Correction
Due to an editing error, the name of a candidate in the 40th Congressional District Democratic primary race was misspelled in a headline and photo caption accompanying a story in Tuesday's Orange County edition. The correct spelling of the candidate's name is Art Hoffmann.

'Wild, Weird, Bizarre'

Sumner said that the philosophy of Leesville, Va., presidential candidate Lyndon LaRouche and his followers was not only "wild, weird, bizarre, but also dangerous. And the best evidence I have so far is Mr. Hoffmann himself."

The taping, which featured Hoffman, Sumner and three other candidates in the 40th congressional race, took place at the public television station based in Huntington Beach. The election special was taped Monday but is to be aired May 29.

Sumner, a retired judge and former state assemblyman, began running as a write-in candidate in late March after county Democrats discovered to their dismay that Hoffmann was unopposed on the June 3 ballot and might likely become the party's standard bearer after the election.

Sumner's honorary chairman, James Roosevelt, a former California congressman and son of former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, interviewed after the show, also disputed Hoffmann's allegation that Sumner's campaign officials are connected to organized crime.

"I wouldn't dignify it with a comment, considering the source. It's just as wild as anything else he says," Roosevelt said.

Sources of Information

Hoffmann said later that he had not seen any documents confirming the Sumner campaign's alleged ties to organized crime but that his information came from "people back East" and also from a reporter in Los Angeles who works for LaRouche's newspaper, the Executive Intelligence Review.

Mainstream Democrats around the nation consider LaRouche, who is running for president in 1988, a danger to their party. His platform includes quarantining AIDS victims, bolstering steel production and a laser-defense system.

Hoffman and Sumner's remarks were only part of the morning's fireworks.

Also appearing on the half-hour KOCE show--and debating for the first time in the campaign--were five-term incumbent Rep. Robert E. Badham (R-Newport Beach), Badham's Republican challenger Nathan Rosenberg and Peace and Freedom candidate Steve Sears.

Early in the show there were angry exchanges between Badham and Rosenberg, with Rosenberg attacking Badham for allegedly missing votes and spending campaign funds improperly. Badham meanwhile defended his performance and his ties to President Reagan and said his campaign expenses were approved by the Federal Elections Commission, the House Ethics Committee and his own local support group, Badham Boosters.

KOCE host Jim Cooper and LaRouche Democrat Hoffmann also wrangled briefly as Cooper tried to read an apparently anti-Semitic article by LaRouche that claimed the Holocaust was fiction and Hoffmann repeatedly interrupted, denying that either he or LaRouche was anti-Semitic. Added Hoffmann: "My campaign secretary is Jewish."

At one point, Rosenberg, 33, a former Young Republicans president making his first bid for elective office, also took a swipe at Orange County Republican Chairman Thomas A. Fuentes, calling him "a bagman" for former county Supervisor Ronald W. Caspers.

That remark came as KOCE host Jim Cooper asked Rosenberg about a Friday night incident that Fuentes had dubbed "Rosengate," in which a Rosenberg campaign worker, using a fictitious name, was discovered at a Badham campaign meeting.

Rosenberg said his campaign worker "went on his own" to Badham headquarters, but then added, referring to Fuentes' term "Rosengate": "Coming from Ron Caspers' bagman, I don't feel bad about Mr. Fuentes' comment."

(From 1970 to 1974, Fuentes served as executive assistant to former Supervisor Caspers, who was lost at sea in a boating accident.)

Asked later what he meant by "bagman," Rosenberg said. "I don't mean anything. It means exactly what it means. Look it up in Webster's dictionary. I said what I said."

Told of Rosenberg's comment, Fuentes laughed, "I guess as we get closer to June 3, the heat is turned up in campaigns and people get more and more excited."

Fuentes, who has been angry at Rosenberg since March for challenging a Republican incumbent, also called Rosenberg's remark "unfortunate."

Fur Coat Charge

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