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California Politics: Campaign News in Brief : 'Slipped Disk' Embarrasses Dornan

October 23, 1986

As campaign fund-raising letters go, it was a corker:

"I knew I was going to die," the first paragraph said. "My arms and legs ached from struggling to tread water in the rough, winter-chilled waves of the Pacific Ocean. . . . "

The author, Rep. Robert K. Dornan (R-Garden Grove), a former Air Force pilot, recounted two brushes with death in the service of his country--and solicited contributions to help defend his military record against "scummy" attacks by political opponents.

But the audience was all wrong.

Conservative Dornan said the letter, which devoted half a page to berating "leftist liberals" before going on to solicit $10, $15 or $25 contributions, had been intended only for the eyes of regular contributors and "the 19 millionaires" among his congressional colleagues.

Instead, a secretary slipped the wrong address disk into a computer--and the five-page letter went to the entire membership of the House.

"A mistake," said Dornan. But several House Democrats were not too sympathetic.

"'Hit the wrong disk,"' said Rep. Douglas H. Bosco (D-Calif.). "That's the story of Bob Dornan's career. . . . "

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