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Political Briefing

Sybert, Backed by PAC Money, Says He's Business's Bottom Line


PAC-MAN: GOP congressional candidate Richard Sybert, who is now challenging U.S. Rep. Anthony Beilenson(D-Woodland Hills), is trying to spin a new logic for voters: that political action committee (PAC) money is good, not bad.

The estimated $60,000 he has received from PACs should be seen as a vote of confidence by the business community in his campaign pledge to lift roadblocks to commerce and jobs growth by working to lower taxes and cut government regulations, Sybert said this week.

"The people who supply the jobs in this district and the workers who depend on them are supporting me because they know that I understand the issues confronting a business and the hoops they must jump through just to stay in business," he said.

This logic is partly defensive as Sybert braces for a Beilenson broadside.

In 1992 Beilenson badly banged up his opponent, former GOP Assemblyman Tom McClintock, for accepting PAC contributions.

PAC contributions, the Democrat has said, represent unwholesome efforts by powerful special interests to influence lawmakers. Beilenson has pledged for years that he will not take such money. (Under federal law, PACs may contribute $5,000 to a candidate, while individuals may give a maximum of $1,000.)

Sybert has raised the ante by calling Beilenson's anti-PAC rhetoric "typical incumbent politician doublespeak."

Citing federal election records, Sybert accused Beilenson of indirectly taking PAC money. Beilenson, Sybert noted, accepts contributions from the state and national Democratic congressional campaign fund--which directly takes PAC money itself--and has benefited from the independent expenditures made in his behalf by half a dozen PACs.

"That's nonsense," said Craig Miller, a Beilenson political consultant. "We do not encourage independent expenditures by PACs, and to our knowledge such expenditures are not being made in our behalf." As for the PAC money that comes indirectly through state and national party contributions, it's not the same as taking the money directly, Miller said.

Finally, Miller rejects the notion that a PAC can be painted as a good thing. "I'll bet the people of our district won't think so," he said. PACs are only contributing to Sybert because they believe "they will be able to control his vote," Miller said. "They oppose Congressman Beilenson because they know he is a pro-consumer, pro-environment vote."


BRAIN MAN: Sherman Oaks activist and realtor Jeff Brain, 35, is hoping to build some excitement about his City Council campaign with Brain-Man, a cartoon figure that will be the mascot for his bid to represent Los Angeles' 5th District.

Brain-Man--a kind of stick figure in a cape with large prefrontal lobes--will appear in cable TV ads and literature produced by the candidate, according to Brain's press relations manager, Roy Silver. And, yes, there's already a Brain-Man campaign button.

The 5th District seat is now held by Zev Yaroslavsky, who will be stepping down in December to take his place with the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.

Brain and Brain-Man have their work cut out for them. Also running for the seat are Barbara Yaroslavsky, the councilman's wife; Michael Feuer, the former head of Bet-Tzedek, a legal services agency; Deputy Dist. Atty. Lea Purwin D'Agostino and Roberta Weintraub, a former Los Angeles school board member.


SPEAKING OF WEINTRAUB: Roberta Weintraub kicked off her political career 15 years ago in a stunning recall of Howard Miller, then a member of the Board of Education. She did it through old-style grass-roots campaigning--door-to-door, outside shopping centers, shaking hands and kissing babies.

Things are not all that different now. Weintraub can be found outside supermarkets these days, handing out her campaign literature. While she's running for Yaroslavsky's City Council seat, she says campaigning hasn't changed much.

Whenever she gets "a few minutes," she said, she's headed for a market to meet and greet prospective voters. Outside a Hughes market in Studio City this week, Weintraub stood in front of the grocery carts, shaking hands and handing out pamphlets with her campaign slogan: "A public servant . . . not a politician."


CASH AND CHRISTIANS: Democratic candidate Adam Schiff picked up fresh ammo this week in his effort to paint state Assemblyman James Rogan (R-Glendale) as a creature of the radical right.

Campaign finance reports released this week showed that Rogan, who has declared his support for teaching creation theory in the public schools, got $25,000 from Galpin Ford (whose owner, Bert Boeckmann, has been allied with TV evangelist Pat Robertson) and $25,000 from Allied Business PAC. This PAC is controlled by four conservative Christian millionaire businessmen who have emerged as the chief financiers of fundamentalist-inclined GOP politicians.

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