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Political Briefing

Antonovich Sees Red Over Buzz Magazine's Pointed Remarks

August 27, 1993

STUNG: Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich is hopping mad over an article in the September issue of Buzz magazine that names him as one of the eight worst politicians in the county.

Antonovich, who has represented the north county on the Board of Supervisors since 1980, is depicted in a caricature with his hand in a cookie jar while such luminaries as Los Angeles City Councilman Richard Alatorre dine on bags of cash. Also named in the story are Sheriff Sherman Block, City Atty. James Hahn, City Councilman Nate Holden, Rep. Matthew G. Martinez (D-Monterey Park), Pasadena City Councilman Isaac Richard and Superior Court Judge Ronald Sohigian.

But author Greg Goldin reserves some of his most vicious stings for Antonovich, suggesting that hefty campaign contributions from developers influence the way he votes and mocking him for requesting that the investigation into the death of Marilyn Monroe be reopened. Goldin even castigates the supervisor for his personal life, saying that at the same time that Antonovich "publicly denounces the children of immigrants, he's privately dating them," referring to a Chinese-American woman he has been seen with.

"The article is a vicious personal attack," Antonovich said in an interview this week. "It's an outright lie and an insult to the woman I date and her family, who are American citizens. The author acted as a paid assassin for a publication with a scandal-sheet mentality. It's a shame he resorts to raw sewage to make a buck."

Antonovich said he is unlikely to file a libel suit against the magazine because libel laws protect attacks on public officials. But he can take solace in Buzz's circulation figures. Only about 1,500 of the 70,000 people who subscribe to the magazine live in Antonovich's turf, a magazine spokeswoman said.

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CAMPAIGN CALLS: Richard Sybert, Gov. Pete Wilson's state director of planning and research who is seriously considering a bid for the Republican nomination in the 24th Congressional District, pointedly says he's not "a professional politician."

But then what was he doing making calls to reporters and editors from his state office in Sacramento this week to announce that he had set up an exploratory committee for the San Fernando Valley and Thousand Oaks seat held by Rep. Anthony C. Beilenson? And why did his secretary call at least one reporter and arrange a telephone interview--using Sybert's state title? And why did secretaries fax his bio and op-ed articles from the state office?

Such minor indiscretions are not uncommon (state law even allows for a minimal amount of such "personal use" of government offices), but they hardly bolster one's identity as an outsider.

Not so, says Sybert. "The call is charged to me personally," he said. "The fax is charged to me personally. If I decide to do this, I'll leave office. Nor was it done on state time. I take a lunch hour. I take a break. I work a 12-hour day." He said the secretary is a friend and "she had to make up the time" used for any campaign-related calls or faxing. Besides, Sybert retorted, this is nothing compared with incumbents routine use of publicly funded mail to ingratiate themselves with voters. "That is a scandal," the prospective candidate said.

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EMPTY COFFERS: Less than a year after elections in newly drawn districts, the campaign treasuries of Valley congressmen are at unusually low levels--at least for incumbents.

Leading the pack in the deficit department is freshman Rep. Howard P. (Buck) McKeon (R-Santa Clarita), who had $55,416 on hand but was carrying a debt of $193,850 as of June 30. McKeon retains the debt--most of which is owed to himself--from his 1992 election campaign. He raised $91,841 in his first six months in office, including $28,216 from political action committees, but spent $48,783, much of it on consultants and fund raising.

Veteran Rep. Anthony C. Beilenson (D-Woodland Hills)--coming off a tough, and costly, reelection campaign and possibly facing another next year--indicated in his latest report that he had $31,019 in cash but owed $50,000 to himself. Beilenson paid back another $15,000 loan to himself in March. He received $47,618 in contributions--all from individuals--since Jan. 1.

Craig Miller, Beilenson's campaign manger, said the lawmaker has received "thousands of dollars" in contributions since June 30 and "we are very optimistic about our fund-raising potential." Beilenson spent a hefty $786,463 in the 1992 cycle.

Rep. Howard L. Berman (D-Panorama City) also shows a low balance of only $12,989. He raised $22,089 this year ($16,000 from PACs) but spent $30,369, much of it on travel, meeting and consulting expenses.

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