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Fund-Raiser for Frogue Recall Gets Backing of Democrats, GOP

Politics: The parties hope to raise $40,000 at event in support of ousting the South County college trustee, who has been accused of making anti-Semitic remarks.

September 09, 1998|JEAN O. PASCO | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Orange County Republican Party and the Democratic Foundation of Orange County hope to raise $40,000 this month to help recall South County college district Trustee Steven J. Frogue.

The money will come from a bipartisan fund-raiser Sept. 19 at the Hyatt Regency Irvine, said county GOP Chairman Michael Schroeder. Guests will be charged $100 each.

Frogue, accused of making anti-Semitic and racist remarks, has been the target of a recall attempt for more than a year. Last year, he proposed teaching a seminar featuring speakers considered anti-Semitic, including one author who has questioned whether 6 million Jews died in the Holocaust.

Frogue has denied the accusations against him and claimed he is a victim of demagoguery by political opponents. He could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Recall organizers said Tuesday that they have gathered about 35,000 signatures to place the recall before voters of the South Orange County Community College District. They have until Oct. 11 to collect 38,000 verified signatures for a special election next year.

"Repudiating Steven Frogue's message of racism and anti-Semitism is clearly something that should enjoy and does enjoy strong bipartisan support," Schroeder said.

Recall committee Chairman Buckman Coe, a retired Protestant minister from Laguna Beach, said the recall effort is getting a major boost from Schroeder and Democratic Foundation Chairman Wylie Aitken, a co-host for the fund-raiser.

Schroeder said recall organizers asked for his help in May. He said he agreed to join forces after researching Frogue's public statements. The local Democratic and Republican parties have both endorsed the recall.

"This was a pretty easy one to figure out," Schroeder said.

Frogue is serving his second four-year term on the college board, which oversees Saddleback College in Mission Viejo and Irvine Valley College in Irvine. Organizers had hoped to place the recall on the November ballot but couldn't gather enough signatures by the June 25 deadline.

Ironically, one of the keynote speakers expected for the fund-raiser is Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach), who was blasted in 1992 for making remarks some considered insensitive.

Rohrabacher, commenting at the time on illegal immigrants using government health services, said: "If Pedro's not here legally, he's not going to get $50,000 for that heart-bypass operation."

At least one recall supporter said Tuesday that he wouldn't attend the fund-raiser because of Rohrabacher's role.

"We have a long memory, and we recall his outrageous statement," said Amin David of Los Amigos de Orange County. "If they want to include Latinos in this [recall] effort, which I totally support, they should have a more sensitive individual come forth."

Schroeder said Rohrabacher was one of the first elected officials to support the recall. He said Rohrabacher's unfortunate choice of words doesn't compare with Frogue's history of inappropriate remarks.

"We welcome everyone who will step up on both sides of the partisan fence," Schroeder said.

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