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The Search for Honesty in Politics

September 28, 1986

Cynics may say an honest politician is a contradiction in terms and therefore we need not expect anyone running for public office to be entirely candid. But recent disclosures (Times, Sept. 11 and 18) that West Hollywood City Council candidate Gene La Pietra was convicted of a state misdemeanor and a federal felony raise very serious doubts not only as to his honesty, but as to his judgment as well. That the convictions stem from "pornographic" films is beside the point. The bottom line is he failed to disclose this information to the community last summer when asked point-blank if he had ever been arrested.

Long before the filing deadline, when potential candidates like Ruth Williams, J. J. Kaplan and others were jockeying for supporters and financial backers, each candidate, including Mr. La Pietra, was asked by responsible community leaders the standard political questions, including: Have you ever been arrested? Is there anything in your background that might be a problem?

The fact that Mr. La Pietra didn't come clean about his past at that time precluded community leaders from supporting other, perhaps more electable, candidates. Mr. La Pietra may stand tall on his $300,000 campaign budget, but he did the business and professional . . . community no favors by knocking out Kaplan, Williams and others by his deceit.

Two council seats will be up in West Hollywood in two years. It's not too early to ask, is there an honest person in town willing to submit to the glare of public scrutiny, who is squeaky clean, responsible and dedicated to the common good? And above all, when asked have you ever been arrested, convicted or in serious trouble, will (that person) answer with simple honesty before the filing deadline?

MARSHAL A. PHILLIPS

Vice President

West Hollywood Democratic Club

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