In the three months he was pursuing a Republican congressional nomination, Nathan Rosenberg maintained again and again that his brother Jack--better known as Werner Erhard, founder of the internationally known est human potential movement--had nothing to do with his campaign.
Whenever his opponent, five-term Rep. Robert E. Badham (R-Newport Beach) made the charge, the young Newport Beach management consultant would angrily deny it. "That's absolutely a lie," he would say.
In June, the 33-year-old challenger lost his bitter fight to unseat Badham, 54.
This week, Rosenberg announced a $175-a-person fund-raiser Sept. 15 in Santa Monica to defray his campaign debt, and the invitations bore a familiar name: The guest speaker is to be Werner Erhard.
Reached for comment late Thursday, Rosenberg said no one should conclude from the invitations that Erhard and his multimillion-dollar business were behind his campaign.
"Look, that's just absolute nonsense," the former candidate said in a telephone interview from Erhard's San Francisco headquarters where he was visiting family members Thursday afternoon. "That's my brother, and he's coming to a fund-raiser that I'm doing. He's going to be speaking there. And also, he's a draw. I've got $15,000 to pay off, and I got to get it paid off.
"Talk about integrity," Rosenberg continued, noting that he had large bills from printers and the phone company. "I'm not going to leave those vendors out there sitting."
Rosenberg said many of the expected 150 guests at the fund-raiser probably would be Erhard's friends from Los Angeles.
He also said he had arranged to hold the fund-raiser at a "hot" restaurant called The Wave because one of the owners, Richard Condon, was a friend who used to lead Erhard's seminars.
Friends in Santa Monica
Asked why a fund-raiser for an Orange County campaign would not be held in Orange County, Rosenberg said he used to live in Santa Monica and he and Erhard have many friends in the area.
Badham, reached by telephone at his Washington office late Thursday, said he was not very surprised by Erhard's role in the fund-raiser. The news was "confirmation" that Erhard was "part and parcel of the campaign," Badham said.
Badham said he understood why Rosenberg would turn to his famous brother to help him openly now.
"Now when your campaign is over, you've got a debt for which you are personally responsible. You try to pay that off . . ." by searching among family and friends for the person who could help raise the most money.
"In this case, if I were Nathan, I would go to my big brother too," Badham said.
Though Rosenberg said Thursday that he had as much as $15,000 in debts, his campaign statement filed with the Federal Elections Commission for all campaign expenses through June 30 reported campaign expenses of $174,919, debts of only $2,000 and $3,154 in cash on hand.
Rosenberg said he had not reported the $15,000 in debts when his campaign statement was filed July 15 because some bills had not been received by the filing date. Also, he said, "Some (bills) we had, but you don't list invoices as debts."