By Matt Coker
By R. Scott Moxley
By Charles Lam
By Nick Schou
By Gustavo Arellano
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By Steve Lowery
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Pro-life activists reacted angrily to the Weekly's revelation last week that Orange County's "anti-abortion" Republican politicians are quietly socializing with and accepting massive contributions from Dr. Edward C. Allred, California's most prolific abortionist. The pro-life Republicans are "dirt bags," said Troy Newman, assistant director of Operation Rescue's West Coast office in Las Vegas. "This is amazing. I can't believe they are lining their pockets with money from an abortion doctor. For them to say that what they are doing is not hypocritical is laughable. We've got a big issue with this situation."
An official with the Fountain Valley-based Crusade for Life agreed. "Our stand is that the contributions are blood money--blood money that should not be taken," said Beverly Cielnicky. "It is wrong, and the money should be returned."
The abortion doctor's influence in Orange County Republican circles is a "red flag" that prompts activists like Cielnicky to wonder if the politicians are as "steadfastly pro-life as they like to claim" in their campaigns. "This is something to worry about," she said. "I just can't think of one reason to justify taking that money from Dr. Allred."
Allred's high-volume, lucrative abortion practice was once compared to Ray Kroc's preparation of McDonald's hamburgers. Ironically, as the Weekly pointed out last week, financial-disclosure reports filed at the Federal Election Commission, the secretary of state's office and the Orange County registrar of voters show that the doctor has given the Republican Party, its causes, and religious-conservative candidates in California at least $436,050. In the past several days, further investigation of the same records revealed tens of thousands more in contributions, bringing Allred's total to $502,749. The bulk of the money was given in the past four election cycles.
A millionaire dozens of times over, Allred recently parlayed his fortune into ownership of Orange County's only gambling venue: the $47 million Los Alamitos Race Course, site of regular meet-and-greets between the doctor and his anti-abortion beneficiaries.
While anti-abortion activists fume, embarrassed elected officials and their political front men are ducking. Tom Fuentes, chairman of the county's Republican Central Committee, has vigorously ostracized moderate Republicans--particularly women--for not following in lockstep with his uncompromising anti-abortion stance. He did not return several calls about Allred's behind-the-scenes influence in his party. Ditto for the Reverend Lou Sheldon of the Anaheim-based Traditional Values Coalition. Routinely loquacious when it comes to the licentiousness of his enemies (including Democrats, pro-choice women, gays and the poor), Sheldon failed to respond to several interview requests.
"I'm sure Curt will be glad to talk to you about this," said Assemblyman Curt Pringle's chief of staff, Jeff Flint. "I can tell you that there is no conflict here. There is nothing unusual. Other than abortion, I'm sure they [Allred and the former Assembly Speaker from Garden Grove] agree on most things."
Pringle--who has said he is anti-abortion but has taken at least $35,750 from Allred--never called us back.
To his credit, Assemblyman Scott R. Baugh tackled the issue head-on. While other Allred-connected politicians hid, the first-term Huntington Beach Republican disputed the Weekly's report that he had taken $39,000 from the abortion doctor. Even though our figure was based on official campaign-disclosure reports filed with the Orange County registrar of voters, Baugh insisted the amount is $25,000. Nevertheless, the lifelong Baptist and graduate of the Reverend Jerry Falwell's Liberty University does not dispute his friendly relationship with Allred, whom he affectionately called "Doc" throughout the interview.
"I like the guy," said Baugh. "He is a very conservative businessman who agrees with me on virtually all of the issues, except abortion. . . . I don't have to like what he does to like the man."
Asked if he thinks his relationship with Allred calls into question the degree of his stated commitment to the pro-life cause, Baugh--a frequent visitor to the Los Alamitos Race Course--did not hesitate.
"Absolutely not," he said. "Not only am I vehemently 100 percent pro-life, I have one of the best voting records in the Assembly on this issue. Nobody is stronger. . . . I'll fight on the abortion issue and continue to try to make changes on the margins. It's just that we are not going to change each other's minds on abortion. We don't talk about it."
Baugh does, however, agree that his relationship with Allred has caused anxiety in the past. "I disclosed to my friends in the pro-life movement that Doc was planning to contribute to me so as not to catch them off guard," he said. "Most didn't care. I did have some pro-life people insist that I give the money back, and I said no. They threatened to write letters. I said: 'Go ahead. That's just not smart politics.' And they never really pursued it again."
Cielnicky remembers Baugh's admission somewhat differently. "I was in the room when he told us he was getting money from Dr. Allred. We expressed our displeasure, but I am positive he did not tell us in advance," she said. "If he had, we would have said 'no' point-blank. Baugh has a good voting record, but he should still return the blood money."