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Pro-Israel Activist Did Not Tell of Campaign Plan, Cranston Aide Says

June 03, 1989|KENNETH REICH | Times Staff Writer

Sen. Alan Cranston's 1986 reelection campaign manager, testifying Friday at the trial of pro-Israel activist Michael Goland, said that Goland and Cranston met while the campaign was under way, and that Goland volunteered "to work directly in Cranston's campaign."

But, said Darry Sragow, Goland personally assured Cranston at a June 21, 1986, meeting that he would not engage in any independent campaigns for the purpose of drawing votes away from Cranston's Republican rival, Rep. Ed Zschau.

Goland, a San Fernando Valley businessman, and two associates are on trial in Los Angeles federal court on charges of secretly paying $120,000 to make and air a television commercial for a conservative third-party candidate with the aim of costing Zschau votes. Secret contributions from unidentified sources are violations of election laws.

Sragow said that, in any event, the Cranston campaign strategists would not have wanted such an effort to be conducted because they felt it would inspire adverse press coverage and cost Cranston public support.

The Cranston manager said that at the June 21 meeting, he, Cranston and Cranston's son, Kim, had met with Goland in a motel room in Westwood and "the substance of the discussion was that Mr. Goland would not be conducting an independent expenditure campaign and therefore was volunteering to work directly in Cranston's campaign."

Sragow said that later he had met with Goland and Colleen Morrow, a Washington, D.C., associate of Goland.

But Sragow testified that he was not told about the effort they were going to make on behalf of the third-party candidate, Edward B. Vallen of the American Independent Party.

Sragow said he could not recall many specifics of the October, 1986, conversation in a bar after the regular working day, other than that Morrow wanted to work in the Cranston campaign and that the three discussed the theory that some conservative Republicans might not be inclined to vote for Zschau, a moderate Republican.

Link to Cranston

Sragow's testimony was the first directly linking Cranston to discussions with Goland on the question of an independent campaign by Goland in 1986. Two years earlier, Goland had spent $1.1 million in an independent effort to defeat former Sen. Charles H. Percy (R-Ill.). Goland has generally supported candidates favorable to Israel and opposed those who have been critical of the Jewish state.

Sragow testified that he considered Goland on the "A list" of Cranston supporters and a potential fund-raiser, though he said that, actually, Goland had done little directly for the Cranston campaign and contact with him ceased in the last two weeks, during the time Goland is accused of waging the illegal effort for Vallen.

Federal prosecutor George New-house said Cranston would not be called to testify at the trial, since he regarded Sragow as an authoritative representative of him.

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