The man who arranged expensive television advertisements for the American Independent political party's U.S. Senate candidate made a similar approach to Breck McKinley, the Libertarian Party's candidate, earlier this year in an effort to defeat GOP nominee Ed Zschau, McKinley said Sunday.
McKinley said political consultant Mark Barnes contacted him last summer and said he represented businessman Michael Goland, whose $1-million effort in 1984 against Illinois Republican Sen. Charles Percy was a key factor in the senator's defeat. Goland has been a major contributor to pro-Israeli causes.
Zschau has had problems with pro-Israeli groups and Jewish voters. Primarily they criticize two actions: the Republican congressman's support for across-the-board budget cuts that included supplemental aid to Israel and his vote in May of this year in favor of a U.S. arms sale to Saudi Arabia. Zschau later sought to appease his critics by saying he would not support such arms sales in the future, but the political damage had been done.
McKinley said in an interview Sunday that in addition to Goland, Barnes said he represented Republican conservatives who this year had backed the unsuccessful GOP Senate primary campaigns of Los Angeles Supervisor Mike Antonovich and Bruce Herschensohn.
"He said he represented a conservative group from Washington, D.C., and they were going to spend money promoting me independently if the Zschau-(Sen. Alan) Cranston race got close," McKinley said. "These were people who were going to do the same thing they did in Illinois. They would rather have six more years of Cranston than 30 years of Zschau."
McKinley said he has taken no money or other kind of assistance from Barnes.
Neither Barnes nor Goland could be reached Sunday for comment.
According to Iris Shidler, campaign manager for American Independent candidate Edward B. Vallen, $120,000 was put into the Vallen campaign in the last week by Barnes.
Shidler said Barnes told her that the money came from conservative and "Christian" Republicans, but did not know the names of most of the donors.
Federal law prohibits large anonymous donations and limits individual contributions to $1,000 per candidate in each election. Political action committees can contribute a maximum of $5,000 per candidate.
Independent committees, like the one Goland formed to oppose Percy in the Illinois Senate race two years ago, can spend as much as they like but the operators of the independent committee cannot coordinate their activities with the candidate.
Barnes, who is in his 40s and has worked on conservative campaigns in Oregon and California, contacted Vallen and Shidler Oct. 23 with an offer to finance television commercials.
Vallen said Sunday that he and Shidler met with Barnes shortly afterward.
Vallen said he asked Barnes who was providing the money and "he said he was not at liberty to say. He said, 'We want to keep this hush, hush. We want to spring this as a political surprise.' He said they were negotiating with conservative and patriotic organizations to pull some money in here to see that I was elected."
Shidler said the $120,000 was spent on about 60 television commercials in the Los Angeles area.
One television station, KNBC, turned down about $50,000 worth of the advertisements because of questions about the source of the money.
Donald Zachary, vice president of the parent NBC network's West Coast law department, said all political commercials must carry a disclaimer stating the name of the organization paying for the advertisement.
He said that checks by KNBC with both the Federal Elections Commission in Washington and with the California secretary of state's office in Sacramento determined that the committee that was buying the time had not filed required campaign reports.
"The purpose of the disclosure requirement is so that people know who's persuading them," Zachary said.
The commercials, while urging voters to back Vallen as what he calls the only real conservative in the race, are considered more damaging to Zschau than to Cranston, according to Ron Smith, Zschau's campaign manager. In another dig at Zschau, the Vallen ads say that he and Cranston are the only candidates with integrity.
After defeating more conservative candidates in the primary, Zschau has had problems persuading conservatives to back him. President Reagan spent the final days before the election campaigning for Zschau in an effort largely aimed at bolstering his standing with conservatives.
Smith termed the last-minute Vallen commercials "a dirty trick" aimed at siphoning conservative votes away from Zschau.
Vallen got another boost Sunday from the National Pro-Life Political Action Committee, which paid for an anti-Zschau advertisement that covered two full pages in the Orange County Register. The advertisement urged voters to oppose Zschau and one of the comments was quoted as coming from "Dr. Robert Grant, chairman, Christian Voice, in praising American Independent Party U.S. Senate Candidate Ed Vallen. . . ."