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Political Briefing

Indicted Glendale Lawmaker Tries to Stem Pre-Trial Damage

September 24, 1993

NOLAN FIGHTS BACK: Assemblyman Pat Nolan, indicted earlier this year on political corruption charges, is countering a move by federal prosecutors to make public a 1988 affidavit that led to a well-publicized FBI search of his Capitol office.

The affidavit was sealed at the request of the U.S. attorney's office, which sought to protect the details of a sting operation in which Nolan, a Republican from Glendale, was ensnared. Now Robert M. Twiss, U.S. attorney in Sacramento, says it is no longer necessary to keep the affidavit under wraps because the targets of the probe have been convicted, pleaded guilty or, as in Nolan's case, been indicted on various charges.

Nolan and his co-defendants, Sen. Frank Hill (R-Whittier) and former Capitol aide Terry Frost, have declared their innocence. Nolan was charged in April with six counts of racketeering, extortion, conspiracy and money laundering.

Now, Nolan, Hill and Frost are seeking to have the search warrant affidavit released just to them so they can review it and make any objections prior to any public release.

Ephraim Margolin, Nolan's lawyer, complains in a motion filed this week in federal court that in recent Sacramento political corruption cases the government has manipulated the media, resulting in unfair pretrial publicity. Margolin says he is seeking "to prevent this case from being tried in the media instead of the courtroom where it belongs."

Margolin said Nolan's right to a fair trial "could be sacrificed by the release of prejudicial, inaccurate and irrelevant information that may be contained in the search warrant affidavit."

To bolster his assertion, Nolan submitted an affidavit from Arnold Steinberg, a San Fernando Valley area pollster and Republican campaign consultant, who surveyed potential jurors. Steinberg contends that it is unlikely that an impartial jury can be picked in the Sacramento area because of unfair publicity about the case.

"Assuming that the released material will contain evidence prejudicial to Mr. Nolan, the climate against him will be further poisoned," Steinberg maintained.

A hearing is set for Thursday in Sacramento.

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DOWN THE HATCH: Rep. Anthony C. Beilenson (D-Woodland Hills) prides himself on being an independent-minded lawmaker in an often intensely partisan institution. This week he found himself virtually a one-man caucus when he was the lone Democrat to oppose reforming the 1939 Hatch Act.

By a vote of 339 to 85, the House sent to President Clinton a bill that opens the door to political activities for most U.S. government employees. Clinton had vowed to sign the measure, which will apply to 3 million workers.

Under the bill, which had been sought by federal employee unions, federal workers would be able to participate in a number of previously banned activities. These range from stuffing envelopes or organizing phone banks in a political campaign to holding party political posts.

But they must do it on their own time and not while wearing federal uniforms or while in any building where official business is conducted.

Beilenson joined 84 Republicans in opposing the bill. Meanwhile, 248 Democrats voted for it.

"I've been voting against it for years," Beilenson said. "The existing Hatch Act has worked quite well. We've had a nonpolitical civil service for many decades now. People have had confidence that federal employees are not political and can't be too deeply involved in partisan politics. At the same time, it protects federal civil servants from coercion."

The other Valley lawmakers split along partisan lines. Democratic Reps. Howard L. Berman of Panorama City and Henry A. Waxman of Los Angeles voted for easing the restrictions; Republican Reps. Carlos J. Moorhead of Glendale and Howard P. (Buck) McKeon of Santa Clarita voted against the measure.

"The only thing that bothers me is that I wish more Democratic members saw the issue the way I did," Beilenson lamented.

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INSIDE EDITION: Los Angeles City Councilman Hal Bernson's chief deputy, Greig Smith, has had an epiphany. A month ago Smith graduated from the LAPD's Police Academy and became a reserve officer, assigned to the Devonshire Division.

But no amount of academy training fully prepared Smith for the paper-pushing tedium that dominates a cop's life. During a recent shift, Smith said, he spent three hours shuffling papers and performing bureaucratic scut-work after arresting two juveniles for swiping a carton of cigarettes.

Smith now wants to share his firsthand observations on police life with his boss and Mayor Richard Riordan's office. "I'd really like to do a pilot paperwork reduction project in Devonshire Division," he said. "Most of the officers I know would rather be on the street than sitting at a desk shuffling paper."

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