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POLITICAL NOTEBOOK : Meeting the Letter of the Law on Mailings

October 28, 1990|MIKE WARD

Anonymous letters: Why are state Assembly members sending unsigned letters to their constituents?

It's not as if they're poison pen letters. In fact, the sentiments tend to be quite public-spirited.

One, addressed to residents of the 42nd District by Assemblyman Richard L. Mountjoy (R-Monrovia), extolled the virtues of participating in National Red Ribbon Week, an anti-drug campaign.

Another, sent out by Assemblywoman Sally Tanner (D-Baldwin Park), is a guide to the disposal of household hazardous waste.

So why the lack of signatures? Two words: Proposition 73.

The campaign reform initiative includes restrictions on political mailings at public expense. Sandra Michioku, spokeswoman for the state Fair Political Practices Commission, said the initiative has been interpreted to permit officeholders to make mass mailings on their letterheads, but only if they don't sign the letters or put their names in the text.

Mountjoy and Tanner said they were simply sending out useful information, but political opponents are crying foul. Ron Aguirre, who is running against Tanner, accused her of "taking advantage of a loophole in the law" to get her name before voters--even if only on letterhead. South Pasadena Mayor Evelyn Fierro, Mountjoy's opponent, charged that the mailing was obviously intended to boost his political stock.

Nasty as they wanna be: Things were pretty tame when state Assembly candidates Paul V. Horcher and Gary Neely spoke at the Diamond Bar library last week. But at least one nasty jab was delivered.

Neely, the Democratic nominee, complained that Republican Horcher, who has put $237,421 of his own money into his campaign, is spending too much. Horcher said he has always respected people who "put their money where their mouth is." Neely replied: "That's a pretty big mouth."

Political corruption poster boy: Aguirre, meanwhile, hoping to ride into office on a wave of anti-incumbent sentiment, is trying to portray the whole Sacramento political Establishment as corrupt.

When he needed a mug to stick on a mailer attacking corrupt politicians, he chose that of former state Sen. Paul Carpenter (D-Norwalk).

He chose Carpenter over former state Sen. Joseph B. Montoya (D-Whittier), even though the former is far better known to local voters. (Both, by the way, would have been equally qualified for a spot on the mailer, having been convicted of political corruption charges as a result of an FBI investigation.)

Aguirre said he decided against using Montoya because too many area residents once voted for Montoya and feel bad about the way his political career ended.

"It would have opened wounds," Aguirre said. "I even voted for him."

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