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Simon Gets Jarvis Group's Nod, Promises to Veto Any Tax Increase

Politics: The GOP gubernatorial hopeful, a distant third in early polling, criticizes rivals.

January 22, 2002|NICHOLAS RICCARDI | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Gubernatorial hopeful Bill Simon Jr. said Monday he had won the endorsement of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assn., and took swipes at his two rivals for the Republican nomination.

Simon criticized Secretary of State Bill Jones for supporting the largest tax increase in California history and said former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan "has spoken disparagingly" of Proposition 13, the 1978 property tax initiative most identified with the Jarvis group.

Simon also took a stand on future tax hikes. "I will make a pledge today," he said. "I will veto any tax increase."

Simon, a multimillionaire businessman who is the son of former U.S. Treasury Secretary William Simon, has run a distant third in early polling for the March 5 primary. He hopes to win over more Republican voters at tonight's debate in San Jose.

Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assn., said Simon was an easy choice. "Bill Simon is a thoughtful and articulate champion of the taxpayers," Coupal said at a Burbank news conference.

Sean Walsh and Tony Russo, consultants for the Jones campaign, minimized the significance of the endorsement. They suggested that Simon won it because he agreed to buy a slot on the organization's slate mailer, a common practice in politics.

Coupal denied that the association has a mailer, even though the Save Proposition 13 mailer advertises as "the ONLY Howard Jarvis Taxpayer Assn. [Political Action Committee]-approved" mailer.

The Simon campaign denied any quid pro quo in the endorsement.

The association did not back Riordan even though its former president, Joel Fox, is policy director of the Riordan campaign. Referring to an appearance in Oakland, Coupal said, "Mr. Riordan was asked quite pointedly whether he would repeal Proposition 13 and then he evaded the question. It was the kind of statement that gave us very little comfort."

At the event, when asked by a reporter if he would change the initiative, Riordan replied, "You can't change Proposition 13. You'd have to be insane to discuss it--like I am now."

Simon criticized Jones for backing Gov. Pete Wilson's 1991 tax increase--proposed to close the largest budget deficit in state history--when in the California Assembly. Walsh said Jones was "being a leader" when he did it.

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