Congressional candidate Nathan Rosenberg acknowledged Friday that an Arizona man responsible for last-minute "hit" mailers aimed at his two leading opponents was a friend but denied that his campaign had anything to do with the mailers.
Rosenberg also announced at a hastily called press conference that he was returning a $1,000 campaign contribution from the man, Arthur M. Jackson, 32, of Phoenix.
The mailers, distributed in recent days under the name of the American Council for a Conservative Consensus, accuse C. Christopher Cox of espousing communism and raise questions about C. David Baker's marital fidelity. Jackson said in a telephone interview that he had arranged to have a total of 37,000 copies of the two mailers distributed to homes in the 40th Congressional District, where Rosenberg, Cox and Baker are the front-runners in Tuesday's Republican primary.
Rosenberg vehemently denied suggestions by his opponents that he was behind Jackson's mail campaign. Jackson, too, said he acted independently of Rosenberg. Both said they have been friends since meeting about a decade ago in Washington when Jackson was a congressional aide and Rosenberg was working for the secretary of the defense.
"Arthur Jackson is a friend, but a misguided friend," Rosenberg said. "Because I disavow his tactics, I told Ted (Long, a campaign aide) to write a check of $1,000 and send it back to him."
Jackson, a stock market investor who said he will be moving to Orange County within two months, said he also contributed $250 to Rosenberg's unsuccessful 1986 GOP primary campaign in the 40th District. Jackson said his $1,000 contribution was for a Rosenberg fund-raising dinner that he attended in January.
Rosenberg added that Jackson was one of 1,800 contributors to his current campaign and that he has no way of controlling their actions. Rosenberg said he tried repeatedly to contact Jackson in Phoenix on Friday but got no response. Jackson returned a telephone call from The Times on Friday from Colorado, where he said he was vacationing.
When he reaches Jackson, Rosenberg said, he will tell him this: "Thanks but no thanks. And don't send out any more mail."
Jackson said the mailers, which he had printed and mailed at a cost of $19,996, represented an independent effort by his American Council for a Conservative Consensus.
The Jackson mailer aimed at Cox contained some language similar to a mailer sent out by the Rosenberg campaign to voters Friday. Both mailers attack Cox for starting a business in 1984 to translate the Soviet newspaper Pravda into English. Cox, who studied Russian while at USC, has said he started the business so Americans could know what is being said about them in the Soviet Union.
The Jackson mailer said: "American schoolchildren, thanks to Christopher Cox, are exposed to the lies, distortions and mind-bending view of the world that Communist propaganda so cleverly manufactures."
The Rosenberg mailer said: "Chris Cox has, for profit, distributed Soviet Communist propaganda to thousands of American school kids. American kids who have had their minds impacted by the cleverly crafted lies of the Soviet propaganda machine."
"It's written, I think, by the same person," said Carlos Rodriguez, campaign consultant for Cox.
Rosenberg angrily asserted that his mailer was in no way connected with the one sent out by Jackson and that both may have contained similar language because they were quoting from a Cox campaign brochure. The Cox brochure said only that Cox was founder of an independent translator of Soviet propaganda for study and use by U.S. government researchers, among others.
Refused to Name Donors
Jackson said his group was supported by 20 donors, whom he refused to name. The organization filed as a political action committee last month both with the secretary of state's office and the Federal Election Commission.
Although Jackson said the group was not supporting any candidates in the 40th District race, he acknowledged that he personally favors Rosenberg and hopes he wins in Tuesday's primary.
Campaign strategists for Cox and Baker said Friday that they had drawn "an inescapable conclusion" that Jackson was working on behalf of the Rosenberg campaign.
"All roads seem to be to the same place, and I think that Mr. Rosenberg is going to have do some serious explaining to Republicans in this district," Rodriguez said.
Wrong Campaign Manager
"Everything seems to lead to a relationship with the Rosenberg campaign," added John Nakaoka, Baker's campaign manager. Nakaoka added that he viewed it as more than coincidence that both Jackson and Rosenberg used Diversified Mailing Inc. of Fullerton to handle distribution of their mailers, as an employee of the company confirmed Friday.
Neither Cox nor Baker uses that mailing house, officials for their campaign organizations said. Nakaoka said there are many other mailing houses Jackson could have used, including some in his home state.