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POLITICAL NOTES : Complaint Filed Against Publication

October 06, 1994|TED JOHNSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

ELECTION FALLOUT: Former Palos Verdes Estates Councilman Ron Florance filed a complaint against a San Pedro publisher and 36th Congressional District candidate Susan Brooks over a publication sent out just days before he was defeated by Brooks in the June 7 primary.

Florance claims that Brooks and Ronald R. Yates acted in "concert and coordination" to put out a publication called California's Republic Reporter, which included a front page article on Brooks, two of her campaign ads, and an article titled "Ron Florance: Republican Asset or Political Embarrassment?" The paper also endorsed Brooks.

The publication was made to look as if it came from the Republican Party, Florance said, when candidates had to pay to be included. Brooks, he said, bought a package that got her on the front page.

According to campaign finance records, the Brooks campaign paid the publication almost $4,000 in the months leading up to the Republican primary. Brooks defeated Florance by 1,302 votes after a bitter campaign.

"Did (the publication) influence 1,000 voters? You bet," Florance said.

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Florance's complaint to the Federal Election Commission and the state Fair Political Practices Commission charges that Yates' publication, because it took money from Brooks and other candidates, was in fact a political committee. But Yates failed to register with state and federal officials or file campaign finance statements, as required by election laws, he said.

Yates, however, said that he has "never worked for Susan Brooks in a paid capacity." Her campaign paid only for the two full-page advertisements. Other articles about the campaign were editorial decisions, he said.

"If Ron Florance wants to fight my First Amendment rights, let him," Yates said. "It's sour grapes because he's a sore loser. He found out he can't buy an election."

Brooks' campaign manager, John Perkins, called the complaint baseless. "It's clearly a political ploy," he said.

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A HELPING HAND: House Minority Whip Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) said he would work actively to make sure that Brooks gets on the House Armed Services and the Science, Space and Technology committees if she beats Rep. Jane Harman (D-Rolling Hills) in the Nov. 8 election.

Harman holds positions on those same committees.

"The nice difference . . . is that Susan actually believes in both," Gingrich told about 200 people at a Rolling Hills Estates fund-raiser for Brooks on Saturday.

Gingrich is stumping for candidates across the country, as Republicans try to gain a majority in the House of Representatives. If the GOP wins 40 seats, Gingrich hopes to be elected Speaker of the House.

"Susan's chances are better than even money," Gingrich said after his speech. "As Jane Harman's record gets known here in California, and as Susan's record as local leader and a mayor gets known, the contrast will be so dramatic that Susan has an excellent chance of winning this race."

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