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Angelides Plays a Dubious Card

October 18, 2006|Robert Salladay | Times Staff Writer

SACRAMENTO — These reports are from Robert Salladay's blog, "Political Muscle." To read more of the blog and other exclusive Times Web features, go to latimes.com/calpolitics.

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SACRAMENTO -- Standing before a gathering of African American pastors, state Treasurer Phil Angelides on Tuesday claimed that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger defended the apartheid regime in South Africa during the 1970s and '80s.

Angelides' comments came barely an hour after a Schwarzenegger advisor, Margaret Fortune, broke down in tears while attempting to address the same ministers at St. Andrews African Methodist Episcopal Church near downtown Sacramento.

The claim that Schwarzenegger supported South African apartheid has been circulated for years, and it's dubious at best. After his appearance before the ministers today, Angelides said he made the claim based on news accounts.

It certainly was one of the most explosive things Angelides could have said about the Austrian-born governor in front of that audience, and it highlighted the intense fight between the two candidates to woo African American voters.

"There have been news reports that have indicated the governor might have made comments defending apartheid," Angelides said. "Now, you can make a judgment about those."

The accusation appears based on the impressions of a single person quoted in Wendy Leigh's biography of Schwarzenegger: "According to Rick Wayne, who is black, when they discussed apartheid, Arnold said he thought South Africa was right, saying things like, 'If you gave these blacks a country to run, they would run it down the tube.' "

Katie Levinson, spokeswoman for Schwarzenegger, had this to say about the accusation: "This is just more nonsense talk from Phil Angelides and a flailing campaign that has come untethered from reality."

The question-and-answer session for candidates was organized by the NAACP's Sacramento chapter and a group called Associated Ministers Empowering Neighborhoods.

Before Angelides arrived, Fortune was asked to address the group. She broke down in tears when a minister said, "The bride didn't show up," and dismissed her as an underling. The governor's office had declined the invitation two weeks ago but a few pastors were not informed, Schwarzenegger campaign officials said. But an NAACP spokeswoman said they only learned Monday evening that the governor would not attend.

After the event, Fortune headed to her Mini Cooper, made a brief comment to TV cameras and drove away.

* Doolittle defended friend accused of sexual assault

Rep. John T. Doolittle has been attacking his Democratic opponent, Charlie Brown, for belonging to the ACLU.

To Doolittle, Brown's membership in the ACLU is enough to characterize him as an extremist liberal, since the group has defended sexual predators.

"It is astounding that anyone could defend a group dedicated to aiding and abetting pedophiles," Doolittle said in a recent press release.

But Doolittle himself defended a man accused of sexually assaulting six patients while they were in his dentist's chair.

According to court records, Doolittle told a criminal jury in 1987 about his friend: "I consider him to be a very truthful individual." Doolittle, then a state senator and attorney, served as an important character witness for the friend, David Phipps, who eventually was sentenced to three years' probation.

Phipps also had his dental license placed on probation for five years by the state Dental Board, which required him to attend patients only with an assistant at his side.

"I got acquainted with him initially through our mutual involvement in the church, and then we became personal friends as well," Doolittle testified at the August 1987 trial. " ... I consider him to be a very truthful individual."

"If Dr. Phipps were to give you his word on something, would you believe that?" the attorney asked.

"Without question," Doolittle replied.

Doolittle's efforts may have proved effective in getting his friend a lighter sentence in 1987. But in 1994, Phipps molested another patient, according to court documents.

One patient in 1994, listed as Marie Y, said that after being administered nitrous oxide, she "felt Phipps' hand" squeeze her breasts.

In December of that year, Phipps was charged with attempted sexual battery and eventually pleaded no contest to two counts of misdemeanor sexual battery. He served 365 days in the Placer County Jail, the documents show.

A spokeswoman for Doolittle, reached Tuesday morning, offered no comment about the case. Phipps could not be reached.

Meanwhile, Doolittle is facing scrutiny from federal prosecutors over his relationship with disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, the Washington Post reports.

Last week, newly released documents showed Doolittle had solicited a job for his wife, political consultant Julie Doolittle. Abramoff paid her company $66,000 between September 2002 and February 2004, according to the Associated Press.

News of the U.S. Department of Justice probe came in a single line in a Post story over the weekend about the guilty plea of Rep. Robert Ney of Ohio, the eighth person convicted in the Abramoff influence-peddling scandal. The Post cited anonymous "lawyers and witnesses involved in the probe."

On Sunday, a Federal Elections Commission report showed payments by Doolittle to a defense law firm.

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robert.salladay@latimes.com

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