SACRAMENTO — Assemblyman Richard E. Floyd of Hawthorne, who was attacked in a phony presidential endorsement letter as a friend of the "underworld drug industry," has challenged the Assembly's Republican leader to take a lie-detector test.
Floyd, a Democrat, said he believes elected officials, not their staff members, are responsible for the letter, and he added that he is not satisfied with the explanation that "the whole thing is just some sort of crazy mix-up."
Floyd said he believes that Republican leader Pat Nolan of Glendale and Assemblymen Dennis Brown (R-Long Beach) and John R. Lewis (R-Orange) probably were responsible for the phony letters.
The endorsement letters, made to appear as if they had been written on White House stationery, included reproductions of President Reagan's signature but were never approved by the White House. They were mailed to voters on behalf of six GOP Assembly candidates, including Floyd's unsuccessful GOP challenger, Roger E. Fiola, just before the Nov. 4 election.
No Trivial Pursuit
Nolan's press secretary Michael Pottage said, "We're not going to play Trivial Pursuit with Dick Floyd. We made a full disclosure." However, Pottage acknowledged Nolan has not made public the name of the aide he said produced the endorsement letters.
Floyd sent the Republican leader a letter Monday suggesting the polygraph. He added in an interview that he will ask state and federal authorities to prosecute those responsible for the letters unless Nolan agrees and passes the polygraph. Floyd said the lie-detector test would include "a mutually agreed upon set of questions."
Last week, Nolan's press secretary, Mike Pottage, said the letters had been sent out through a "careless . . . communications breakdown" among Assembly GOP Caucus staff members on leave to work in Assembly campaigns. Pottage, who declined to name the staff members responsible, said they had given the go-ahead for campaigns to use the Reagan letters, believing the Republican National Committee had secured the necessary clearances from the White House.
But Floyd said on Monday that the explanation "sounds like bull" and added, "If some staff guy pulled something like this off . . . they would hang that guy from the nearest tree."
'Consider the Source'
Assemblyman Brown, who managed Fiola's hard-hitting campaign, said in response: "You have to consider the source. Dick Floyd is considered the clown of the Legislature. It was a minor incident. It was an unfortunate mistake, but there was no doubt that Mr. Fiola was endorsed by the President of the United States."
Lewis, elections chairman for the Assembly Republican Caucus, oversaw three of the other five campaigns in which unauthorized presidential endorsement letters were used. He was unavailable for comment.
In his letter to Nolan, Floyd said: "Originally, you claimed that the letters were modifications of approved presidential endorsements. Now, you say that there never was an approved Reagan endorsement and the whole thing is just some sort of crazy mix-up. While you are apparently satisfied that this explanation ends the affair, I am not."
Floyd said that "unanswered questions" include:
- Who wrote the letters and who told them to do so?
- How far in advance were the letters prepared and was their "last-minute publication" intended to "prevent verification of President Reagan's involvement?"
- When did Nolan first learn about the letters and what role was played by elected officials overseeing the campaigns?
- Who decided on the charges that Floyd had caved in "to the powerful underworld drug industry?"