The Sore-Losers Club

A Bitter Ex-Congressman Secretly Feeds Voter Probe

The Fair Elections Group had not yet been created, but evidence suggests Saranita was associated with the Voter Fraud Task Force and the Committee for Election Integrity. She repeatedly denied these associations, but Fred Woocher, an election-law attorney in Los Angeles who represented Harman in the voter-fraud allegations, has information to the contrary. He dealt with Saranita in 1994; on his office Rolodex, Woocher says, he still has an old entry listing Saranita with the Committee for Election Integrity--at the same telephone number now used by Saranita's Fair Elections Group.

In January 1995, with the fraud charges going nowhere, Ezell announced that the Voter Fraud Task Force was disbanding and that a new group called the Fair Elections Foundation would replace it. Apparently, "Foundation" was later changed to "Group" or, at least, used interchangeably.

Saranita met four direct questions about her connection to that organization with unequivocal answers: "I can't tell you anything about the Fair Elections Foundation."

It's odd, then, that the Weekly obtained copies of letters on Fair Elections Foundation letterhead signed by Saranita. It's also odd that Saranita is listed as an official with the Fair Elections Foundation of Costa Mesa in Dirty Little Secrets, a 1996 book that focuses on the seamy side of politics, by Larry J. Sabato and Glenn R. Simpson. Sabato, a professor at the University of Virginia, confirmed the accuracy of the information. Sabato said he did not rely exclusively on Saranita's conclusions on voter fraud because they were "far too speculative."

Another unpublicized but compelling link between Saranita and the Republicans is a man named Dimitri Carapanos. Carapanos, according to a former Republican official, is "very close friends" with the Huffingtons. Carapanos was a member of the Voter Fraud Task Force and treasurer of Huffington's Federal Recount Fund. Ezell admitted to reporters in 1995 that he worked with Carapanos; a Fair Elections Foundation roster from 1995 lists Carapanos as president of the group's board of directors and Saranita as vice president.

Today, the Fair Elections Group lists a second office and telephone number in Walnut Creek. That address and number belong to Carapanos' home, according to the National Telephone Directory. Carapanos' answering service uses the name Fair Elections Foundation.

Note to Times reporters when they get back from staking out Hermandad's offices: one of the addresses the foundation listed in its early days was on South Coast Drive--in the same small office building that houses mega-Republican donor and Dornan-backer George Argyros' businesses. Coincidence? Stay tuned.

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