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Argyros Spends $634,000 in Last Days of Airport Effort

October 29, 1994|H.G. REZA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Newport Beach developer George L. Argyros, one of the architects of Measure A, has spent almost $634,000 in the last days of the race in support of the county initiative which calls for a commercial airport at El Toro, according to financial disclosure statements released Friday.

The statement, which was filed with the registrar of voters, showed that Argyros loaned the Yes on Measure A Committee $440,000 between Oct. 19 and 21 and gave another $193,950 through a contribution-in-kind from International Billing Services, an Argyros-owned company in Sacramento.

The latest contributions from Argyros are on top of $35,000 that he previously contributed in support of the initiative.

Argyros' donations in the last days of the campaign are more than three times larger than the total contributions raised by Taxpayers for Responsible Planning, a committee formed to defeat Measure A on Nov. 8. Opponents have raised $179,414 through Oct. 22, according to their disclosure statement filed Thursday.

Argyros was a key architect of the initiative, which calls for a civilian airport at the El Toro Marine Corps Air Station when the base closes in 1999. He and other businessmen who sponsored the measure contend that an airport would create 21,000 new jobs and generate millions for the county's economy.

Laguna Hills Councilwoman Melody Carruth, a Measure A opponent, expressed anger at Argyros' latest infusion of money into the pro-Measure A campaign.

"I can't believe anyone is so altruistic and caring of the future of Orange County that he would personally invest $440,000 in an initiative campaign that, if successful, would have a limited chance of accomplishing his stated goal of jobs," said Carruth. "It's a snow job. It really is his initiative now. It should be called the George Argyros initiative."

Argyros responded with a written statement in which he said that Orange County needs an airport at El Toro to compete in the global economy in the 21st Century.

"Everyone who has been fortunate enough to have had a successful career should give as much as possible back to their community. For my part, I am making a large contribution to Yes on A because the Yes on A message must be communicated."

Carruth and other Measure A opponents said they expect airport proponents to use the $440,000 from Argyros to mail campaign literature in the last week of the race.

Recent polls have shown that voters are evenly split on Measure A. The surveys also have shown there remains a large bloc of undecided voters.

The latest disclosure statements show the Yes on Measure A Committee raised $540,340 through Oct. 22, while the Committee for 21,000 New Jobs, also formed to support Measure A, raised $247,846 through the same period for a total of $788,186.

However, both pro-Measure A campaigns are heavily in debt, reporting $818,378 in outstanding bills.

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