Bagley said that when he buttonholed Brulte after the vote he "was saying thank you. That's different than trading" a vote.
Bagley, a former Republican assemblyman, said he writes as many as 10 letters a year. Asked if it was fair for him to give a leg up to some students, Bagley said: "Tell me where in the rule book of life that says you've got to be fair. I mean that facetiously."
Other officials who made requests of UCLA included Gov. Wilson, who made two casual--and unsuccessful--requests on behalf of 1993 applicants. One was for a gubernatorial campaign worker who was denied admission as an undergraduate, and the other for a former staff member who failed to get into graduate school for political science.
Wilson spokesman Sean Walsh said the governor writes many letters of recommendation but only for people he knows personally--either the children of friends or members of his gubernatorial staff.
He said the governor did not screen the requests to determine if the individuals were eligible for UC admission.
"The governor's general rule is that he provides letters of recommendation for individuals that he may know or for individuals who may have worked with him where he can testify that this individual's character, their energy, their intellectual ability and their work drive would be a benefit and an asset to the University of California," said Walsh. "This is not the governor saying, 'Admit this individual to the university.' "
Walsh said that Wilson also has made "several dozen" recommendations over the years to graduate schools, both public and private.
Former Gov. Deukmejian made eight requests to UCLA. Records show that his inquiries through UC lobbyist Arditti in the mid-1980s helped two students get into UCLA who initially had been rejected.
Even after becoming a private citizen, Deukmejian continued to lobby UCLA. According to a memo, he took the case of one 1993 applicant "very personally" and contacted Arditti twice. The student had been rejected, but UCLA reconsidered and gave him an opportunity to start classes as a sophomore.
Deukmejian was traveling and could not be reached for comment Friday, his secretary said.
Records show that among the Democrats who made successful requests were former Lt. Gov. Leo T. McCarthy, former state Sen. Gary K. Hart of Santa Barbara, former Assembly Speaker Willie Brown, now San Francisco mayor, and former state Sen. Art Torres, now acting California Democratic Party chairman.
Hart, who made one request to UCLA, said he believes he sent a general letter of recommendation for a prospective student who had served as an intern in his office. Hart said he may have written one or two other letters asking UC officials to review a file where a student seemed to have a credible case in which "an injustice was done."
Brown could not be reached for comment. But McCarthy said he would only help people if their records looked reasonable. If he thought it was a close call, he would send a letter on their behalf, sometimes through Arditti's office.
Torres said he never got the impression that his recommendation letters were given special treatment.
Maddy, who until recently was the state Senate Republican leader, intervened in 1986 on behalf of the son of a local businessman and friend who helped him in his first political campaign and was an occasional donor. The student was turned down, but UCLA changed its mind after Arditti told the campus that the case was "very important to Maddy."
"Anybody who's my age has had their kids and their contemporaries who are college age. I wouldn't even begin to count the number of requests that I have received from my friends and so on asking that I try to write a letter or do something to encourage the UC," he said.
Regent Clair Burgener, now chairman of the regents, who voted against affirmative action, wrote letters to UCLA's admissions director that helped change the course for applicants in 1993 and last year. The former San Diego congressman said he couldn't recall the older case but remembered that the 1995 letter was written for a relative of a friend. Internal documents show the applicant was apparently headed for rejection but was given the chance to enroll as a sophomore the next year.
"It's a courtesy and it's very difficult to say no," Burgener said. "You know people want to get an education. They [UC campuses] should not admit anybody based on the recommendation of a regent."
Regent Frank Clark, a Democrat who also voted against affirmative action, contacted a top UCLA official in 1985 after the son of a bank vice president was told to go to another campus.
Paperwork on Clark's request noted: "Would like him admitted. Very important." The student was admitted.
Asked about the case, Clark said he had "no recollection."
The most prolific of the regents, however, has been Kolligian.
Not Always Successful