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Inside the Ads : SENATE

AD WATCH. Campaign '94. One in an occasional series

November 06, 1994

Republican Senate candidate Mike Huffington has taken out full-page newspaper ads in today's Los Angeles Times and in other papers.

* The Ad: The full-page newspaper ad quotes passages and cites information from a Times story about Sen. Dianne Feinstein's handling of potential conflicts related to her personal and political finances. The point of the ad is to underscore Huffington's contention that Feinstein has used her position in the Senate to enrich her husband, merchant banker Richard C. Blum.

* The Analysis: The ad refers to several paragraphs of the nearly 3,000-word Times story that ran Oct. 28. But some of the quotes and references in the ad are incomplete, and, in one case, it does not cite other facts in the story indicating that Feinstein's actions did not violate any rules.

The ad says, for example, that two longtime clients and friends of Blum have connections to a San Francisco firm, Catellus Corp. The ad says Feinstein's original Desert Protection Act would have given Catellus special allowances to swap its 366,000 acres of desert land for other government surplus property. What the ad does not say is that after Republicans objected to the Catellus provision, the Senate Natural Resources Committee pulled it from the bill. The measure, without the Catellus provision, was later signed into law. Feinstein has said she took the Catellus provision directly from the House of Representatives' version of the legislation.

The ad also quotes a passage from The Times' report that on May 25, "in a speech delivered on the Senate floor, Feinstein urges Clinton to increase favorable trade relations with China at the same time Blum is planning to invest up to $150 million there. . . ." The ad does not include the five words at the end of the sentence, "on behalf of several clients." Blum has said he would put $2 million to $5 million of his own money into the investment.

The story also noted that under Senate rules, Feinstein may vote on bills that affect her husband's finances so long as the legislation is not designed to specifically benefit Blum or his investments.

The ad did not mention that in some cases Feinstein has taken actions that adversely affected her husband's myriad investments in everything from cable television and an airline to container products.

Feinstein has released the couple's tax returns back to their 1980 marriage, and has challenged Huffington to do the same. Blum released his client list in 1990 but has declined to release his corporate returns until Huffington makes his tax records available.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein released three new television commercials Saturday in a final blitz before Tuesday's election.

* THE AD: One ad opens with a theme of the Democrat's campaign: "Who can you trust? Feinstein or Huffington?" An announcer then reads, "Congressman Huffington admits he broke federal immigration law. Dianne Feinstein broke no federal immigration laws." Moving to another issue, the announcer reads: "Congressman Huffington stiffed California for nearly $7 million in corporate taxes. And Huffington avoided paying millions in California income taxes by claiming a Texas residence. Huffington still won't release his tax returns. But, you know Dianne Feinstein pays her taxes because she released 17 years of tax returns." The ad closes: "Congressman Huffington. The Texas oil millionaire Californians just can't trust."

* THE ANALYSIS: Huffington admitted recently that he violated federal immigration law by employing an illegal immigrant nanny at his Santa Barbara home for more than four years, ending last summer. He has already paid fines and back taxes on the woman's salary to the Internal Revenue Service, and the Immigration and Naturalization Service is reviewing the matter. Huffington has charged recently that Feinstein also employed an illegal immigrant housekeeper from 1980 until 1983. Feinstein said she hired a woman from Guatemala, but the woman produced documents indicating that she was in the country legally. INS officials say the housekeeper entered the country legally, but her visa only allowed her to work at the Guatemalan Consulate and even that permission expired while she worked for Feinstein. In any case, employment of an illegal immigrant only became a federal crime in 1986, several years after Feinstein's case and before Huffington's.

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