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Political Fund-Raising

March 05, 1994

Talk about twisting the truth and omitting facts in order to make a journalistic point! Daniel Weintraub's article on political fund-raising ("Groups With Stake in State Top Wilson's Donor List," Feb. 27) states:

" . . . In many other instances last year, (Gov.) Wilson accepted and kept contributions from interests that were seeking to influence him on important matters. Some examples: On the eve of introduction Oct. 1 of a controversial new form of diesel fuel, Texaco picked up the $30,000 catering bill for a huge Wilson fund-raiser at Bob Hope's desert home. Arco contributed $10,000 at the same event. Despite protests from truck drivers who said the new fuel would cost more and damage their engines, Wilson let the regulation take effect on schedule two days later."

What The Times did not report was the following:

The "controversial new diesel fuel" was a cleaner-burning, low-sulfur diesel fuel mandated in 1988 by the California Air Resources Board to take effect Oct. 1, 1993. From the start CARB recognized that the new fuel would result in higher prices. Only after the cleaner-burning diesel was in the marketplace and prices began to rise did truckers raise questions about the fuel's effects on truck engines.

In response, Gov. Wilson appointed a Diesel Fuel Advisory Committee. After hearings were held (in which Arco, among many others, supported the CARB clean-air mandate), the committee recommended that the governor uphold the clean diesel regulations. Wilson agreed, saying: "California has no choice but to clean up the air emissions of mobile sources, and suspension of the CARB rule is inconsistent with that goal."

This, then, is the background to your allegations--a background that was totally irrelevant to your reporter, who clearly set out to imply that the decision to mandate the cleaner-burning diesel had been influenced by contributions to a fund-raising event. If that isn't unfair reporting, what is?

ALBERT GREENSTEIN

Manager, Media Relations, Arco

Los Angeles

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