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Volunteer for Bush Dismissed Because of Ties to Demjanjuk

September 09, 1988|From a Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — Vice President George Bush's campaign organization dismissed a member of its volunteer ethnic outreach organization Thursday because the man appeared as a character witness for convicted death camp guard John Demjanjuk and belongs to an organization which denies that the Nazi Holocaust ever took place.

Campaign spokesman Mark Goodin said Jerome Brentar was asked to step down from the American Nationalities for Bush organization because his views were "at fundamental odds with the vice president and this campaign."

The Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles said Brentar testified as a defense witness in Demjanjuk's deportation hearing in 1984. Demjanjuk was convicted in Israel and sentenced to death as the sadistic Treblinka death camp guard Ivan the Terrible.

Another Was Pro-Nazi

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the center that was established to document Nazi war crimes, said another member of the nationalities group, Floan Galdau, was convicted in 1941 of membership in the pro-Nazi Romanian Iron Guard. He added that a third member of the organization, Philip A. Guarino, was removed from a Republican campaign organization eight years ago after making a racist remark.

Goodin said the campaign was reviewing the charges against Galdau and Guarino but "at this point we have no substantiation of any sort for any of them."

He said the campaign "simply had no indication" of Brentar's background before it was published Thursday in the Washington Jewish Week newspaper. The Wiesenthal organization confirmed the information contained in the newspaper.

James A. Baker III, Bush's campaign manager, said in a statement: "There is no place in this campaign for anti-Semitism, racism, bigotry or people who espouse those views. Any individuals who espouse those views will not be welcome in this campaign."

Helped in Fund-Raising

The American Nationalities organization, composed primarily of immigrants from other countries, sponsored a rally for Bush in Washington on Aug. 2 and has conducted fund-raising activities for his campaign.

Rep. Mel Levine (D-Santa Monica) said: "There is no place in the American political process for people who have demonstrated the type of intolerance and hatred that these individuals have demonstrated. I believe that Vice President Bush should quickly and totally sever any relationship that his campaign may have established with these people."

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