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Political Briefing

Tonight's Top 10 List: Who Made the Most of Fat Cat Friendships?


IN THE MONEY: Four San Fernando Valley state lawmakers recently made the top 10, the California Common Cause top 10, that is--a dubious distinction in some quarters. The political watchdog group annually lists the state's 10 biggest political fat cats and the legislators who benefited most from their generous campaign contributions.

During the most recent campaign season (1993-94), Common Cause reported that ex-senator David Roberti, Sen. Herschel Rosenthal (D-Los Angeles) and Assemblymen James Rogan (R-Glendale) and Bill Hoge (R-Pasadena) were among the top 10 recipients from the top 10 contributors.

Roberti, who successfully beat back a recall election in April, 1994, but was forced by term limits to resign in December, received $125,246 from seven of the state's 10 largest contributors. Roberti's biggest contribution--$51,000--came from the California Trial Lawyers Assn., according to the Common Cause report released this week.

Rogan was the second-biggest beneficiary of the top 10's largess. Rogan, who is preparing to run for the congressional seat now held by Carlos Moorhead (R-Glendale) got $80,125 from the top 10 givers, including $41,125 from the Allied Business PAC, the conservative political action committee founded by state Sen. Rob Hurtt (R-Garden Grove).

Hoge got $60,378 from the top 10, his largest contribution ($31,628) also coming from Allied. Finally, Rosenthal, who now occupies the seat formerly held by Roberti, got $52,850 from the top 10, including $13,250 from the California Optometrists PAC.

Other Valley lawmakers and what they got: Assemblywoman Barbara Friedman (D-North Hollywood), $27,802; Sen. Cathie Wright (R-Simi Valley), $18,617; Assemblyman Richard Katz (D-Sylmar), $18,310; Assemblywoman Paula Boland (R-Granada Hills), $12,512; Assemblywoman Sheila Kuehl (D-Santa Monica), $7,131.

Standing alone in abstinence was Sen. Tom Hayden (D-Santa Monica). The independently wealthy Hayden, who made campaign finance reform the centerpiece of his quixotic 1994 gubernatorial bid, received no money at all from the top 10 contributors.


FLIPPER FLAP: Katz may be keeping mum about what he plans to do after term limits take his job away next year. But he's been outspoken about dolphins. Last Wednesday, Katz was honored at Gadfly II (in case you didn't know, that's the International Dolphin Summit) in Seattle for his sponsorship of pro-dolphin legislation.

Specifically, Katz is pushing for legislation that would ban the display of any dolphin (or whale, seal, porpoise or sea lion) that had been captured in the wild. The legislation has been stymied for two years by Anheuser-Busch, the makers of Budweiser beer. Why? Because they own Sea World, an enterprise built on the backs of captive seagoing animals.

If the Budweiser folks' opposition proves insurmountable, Katz is talking about taking his crusade directly to the voters. That would be reminiscent of the assemblyman's successful 1990 initiative to protect mountain lions.


BANK ON IT: There was a time when local lawmakers would celebrate all the aerospace dollars--and jobs--they helped bring back from Washington. With the Cold War over and the federal budget tight, that time may have come and gone. Now, Rep. Anthony C. Beilenson (D-Woodland Hills) is touting what may be the flip-side of those glory years--the creation of a new bankruptcy court.

The U.S. Bankruptcy Court will open a San Fernando Valley division office in Warner Center in Woodland Hills next summer. It will serve residents of the Valley as well as Calabasas, Topanga and Malibu.

Beilenson said in a prepared statement that he worked with the Bankruptcy Court and the General Services Administration in finding a West Valley location for the new court.

"I am glad that we were able to play a role in helping this move come about," Beilenson said. "I know it will be of great benefit to the hundreds of thousands of residents who now have to travel many miles to reach Bankruptcy Court offices."

With the Valley's economy still at a crawl, convenient access to Bankruptcy Court may be more important than ever.


SECEDING FROM CONGRESS: When the Republicans didn't go along with Democratic requests to hold a week's worth of hearings on the proposed overhaul of Medicare, Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Los Angeles) and other Democrats on the House Commerce Committee walked out.

They then did what has become a new tactic of the Democratic minority--they held their own, renegade Medicare hearings, C-SPAN coverage and all.

But that's not to say that Waxman does not get along with Republicans.

In a more cooperative mode, he convened a group of Democrat and Republican colleagues last week to support President Clinton's crackdown on cigarette smoking among children.

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