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Bankruptcy Puts Damper on Donations : Politics: Campaign reports show but one gift--from county lobbyist--for two supervisors blamed by public for crisis.

August 03, 1995|RENE LYNCH | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SANTA ANA — Political campaign contributions haven't exactly been flooding in for two of the supervisors the public holds most responsible for Orange County's bankruptcy.

Supervisor Roger R. Stanton, who faces a primary election in March, received $500 in campaign contributions from January to July--and that single check came from the Washington lobbyist who represents the county and was hired by the board.

Board Chairman Gaddi H. Vasquez, who recently announced that he would not seek reelection in March, had raised zero, according to the mid-year campaign contribution reports that all elected officials must file.

Vasquez downplayed the role of the bankruptcy, which occurred Dec. 6 after former Treasurer-Tax Collector Robert L. Citron's risky financial investments that lost $1.7 billion. The board has been criticized for lack of oversight.

"I don't believe there's any correlation between that and the bankruptcy," Vasquez said Wednesday. Vasquez, who already has more than $300,000 from earlier campaign contributions, said he was too tied up in bankruptcy issues to consider raising funds earlier this year, before he decided not to run.

"When you're sitting on a war chest of upward of $300,000, that's a very, very good base to start from," said Vasquez, who has not decided what he will do with contributions. "If any fund-raising would occur, it would be in the latter half of this year."

Last year at this time, Vasquez had reported $1,599 in campaign contributions.

Stanton, who already had $178,000 in his campaign war chest, did not return phone calls. But his intake this year was higher than for the same period last year, when he did not report any campaign contributions, according to records. But unlike Vasquez, Stanton faces reelection next March.

But perhaps most surprising was Supervisor William G. Steiner's haul: $29,825.

Like Vasquez and Stanton, Steiner was on the board at the time of the bankruptcy, but public blame for the debacle has been more readily aimed at the other two.

"It's a testament to the fact that of the supervisors sitting at the time of the bankruptcy filing, Steiner is seen as having had the least culpability," said Orange County political consultant Harvey Englander, attributing it to Steiner's relatively short tenure on the board and a positive public image garnered from working with abused and neglected children.

Vasquez and Stanton's balance sheets were open to interpretation.

Some said the pair, traditionally among the top fund-raisers in the county, shrewdly avoided trolling for dollars in the wake of the bankruptcy.

"Fund-raising would have been perceived as the pinnacle of arrogance, a Marie Antoinette 'Let them eat cake' response," Inglander said.

Garden Grove City Councilman Mark Leyes, who is mulling a challenge to Stanton, says he doesn't see much meaning in Stanton's meager take.

"You don't know how much he could have raised had he tried, and he didn't," Leyes said. "But with that kind of a head start, you don't really have to raise that much money."

Stanton's most prominent opponent is Assemblyman Mickey Conroy (R-Orange), who reported raising $11,800. He is holding a fund-raiser tonight that is expected to bring in up to $40,000, according to a campaign spokesman.

The two newcomers to the board couldn't find much to complain about either: Jim Silva raised $12,180 and Marian Bergeson collected $8,589.

Sheriff Brad Gates, Assessor Bradley L. Jacobs and Auditor Steve E. Lewis also reported no campaign contributions, but the three do not face reelection for several years. Lewis has been blamed for failing to detect the questionable financial maneuvers that led to the bankruptcy. He has denied any wrongdoing.

Dist. Atty. Michael R. Capizzi raised $3,700, Clerk-Recorder Gary L. Granville reported $3,350 in contributions and Treasurer-Tax Collector John M.W. Moorlach, who was recently appointed to replace Citron, raised $845, according to campaign reports.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

Dwindling Contributions

Supervisor Gaddi H. Vasquez and three other elected officials report collecting no campaign contributions during the period January through July, 1995. The figures:

Official: Supervisor William G. Steiner

Amount: $29,825

Official: Supervisor Jim Silva

Amount: 12,180

Official: Supervisor Marian Bergeson

Amount: 8,589*

Official: Dist. Atty. Michael R. Capizzi

Amount: 3,700

Official: Clerk-Recorder Gary L. Granville

Amount: 3,350

Official: Treasurer-Tax Collector John M.W. Moorlach

Amount: 845

Official: Supervisor Roger R. Stanton

Amount: 500

Official: Supervisor Gaddi H. Vasquez, Sheriff-Coroner Brad Gates,

Assessor Bradley L. Jacobs, Auditor Steve E. Lewis

Amount: none

* Actual amount $8,588.51

Source: Orange County registrar of voters

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