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CALIFORNIA ELECTIONS : . . . While Herschensohn Plays Finances Close to the Vest


Based on Herschensohn's financial disclosures filed with the U.S. Senate, it appears that his personal holdings are unlikely to become entangled with his public duties if he wins Nov. 3.

Although his annual pay exceeded $200,000 from his television and radio commentaries at KABC television and radio, he bought his first home in 1984--a one-bedroom condo in Hollywood valued at about $180,000. He said he had no previous interest in home ownership.

"The question should be: 'Why does someone have an interest?' " he asked.

Unlike Boxer, whose personal finances are intertwined with her husband's, Herschensohn appears to be financially independent of others. His only immediate family member is a sister. He and his sister jointly own the family home and a piece of property near Palm Springs, which they inherited when their mother died last year.

Herschensohn married once, in 1963, separated in 1971, and has no children. He did not file for divorce until 1989 and had no community property. He said he finally got the divorce because it "was getting complicated" to explain to friends that he was separated, not divorced.

A friend, astrologer Joyce Jillson, said in an interview: "This is someone who doesn't care about money. . . . He believes in paying cash. He doesn't believe in owing a cent."

Nor does he believe in being obligated, she said. Jillson accompanied Herschensohn to a dinner at a corporate dining room a few years ago in downtown Los Angeles, where one of the hosts tried to persuade Herschensohn to plug a cause. As she told it, Herschensohn got up and left, refusing to allow the man to so much as validate his parking stub.

As much as he is able, Herschensohn said, he leaves mundane details of life to others. He hates to shop, he said, so Jillson buys his shoes for him. He also pays little attention to fund-raisers or how much money they bring in.

"I don't do that," Herschensohn said of money matters. "I do one thing--that's policy and issues, debate and speeches. . . . I'll get those people who I trust to do the kinds of things that I don't want to do."

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