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By Charles Lam
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Will Swaim has chutzpah. What else can describe a writer willing to charge Jean O. Pasco and others with "blatant historical revision" in an article filled with blatant and numerous inaccuracies ("Still Hazy After All These Years: The Regstill ain't talking about its role in the Baugh scandal," April 2)?
Since when, as Swaim's article repeatedly suggests, was I "directly implicated" in Orange County's so-called "biggest political scandal?" My association with Rhonda Carmony (now Rhonda Rohrabacher) does not mean I was directly implicated in anything. First of all, Rhonda, as the story falsely asserts, was not "one of the few Republicans organizing the decoy effort." Laurie Campbell, the so-called decoy candidate, testified that she had never spoken with Rhonda, much less been instructed or advised by her. Furthermore, Campbell testified that the district attorney had pressured her to lie in order to implicate Rhonda. This was the district attorney's star witness.
Swaim also indicated Richard Martin was a "former Rohrabacher aide." Where did he get that? That is pure garbage, probably taken from the pile heaped upon the public by Los Angeles Timeshit man Peter Warren. Like Warren, who has since been taken off the political beat, Swaim repeatedly and intentionally leaves the false impression that Republicans helping Democrats (or vice versa) during an election is illegal. Leaving out that the so-called "decoy" maneuver was perfectly legal is about as dishonest a reporting job as could be done. Swaim followed Warren's example on that.
Finally, Rhonda was not found guilty. The jury was hung even though she had been completely exonerated by the DA's star witness. She ended up pleading out, as happens far too often just to get the damn thing over. The pressure and expense were too much.
Swaim may not notice that the DA's charges against Scott Baugh in this case have been repeatedly thrown out by judges and law-enforcement officials, including California's top law-enforcement officer, who happens to be a Democrat. The judges cited "grave prosecutorial misconduct," and the state attorney general cited bad prosecutorial judgment.
Pasco, as compared to Warren, did a decent job of covering this story. Pasco did not highlight me because-contrary to Swaim's totally unsubstantiated claim-I was not involved. Rhonda was not mentioned because, while she kept a close eye on the situation, she had no role in this legal yet controversial maneuver.
Frankly, Swaim's article, like Mike Capizzi's prosecution, appears to be out to do me harm, and like Capizzi, Swaim didn't let the truth get in the way. Unlike Capizzi, however, I'm sure the OC Weeklywill play fair and print this letter, just like they did my cute little poem (Letters, April 2).
-Dana Rohrabacher, Member of Congress, 45th District
Will Swaim responds: It's no surprise that Rohrabacher regards Pasco's self-censorship as "decent" reporting. Nor is it surprising that he would ignore the uncomfortable fact at the heart of my story: Rhonda Carmony-then Rohrabacher's campaign chief of staff, now his wife-was in the same car as decoy Democrat Laurie Campbell when the election documents were falsified. Pasco, a veteran reporter, knew Carmony was with Campbell at the key moment in the GOP election scheme but puzzlingly left that critical detail out of her articles for three months. Whatever Pasco's loyalties were at the time, they evidently were not to Register readers who expected her to tell the truth.
100 AND STILL KICKING
Cheers to Anthony Pignataro and the OC Weeklyfor El Toro Airport Watch No. 100 (The County, April 2). The series has provided some of our most readable and informative tidbits about the awful El Toro International Airport project.
Our Web site receives complaints from airport communities all over the world about local press that is completely on the side of the developers, the establishment and the political powers that be. It's good to have voices here that speak out against bad government policy.
Keep digging, Anthony. There is dirt out there for many more articles.
-Len Kranser, Editor, El Toro Airport Info Site
Thank you, Anthony Pignataro, for persevering week after week after week, digging up dirt in the filthiest garbage dump in the universe: the domain of the El Toro Airport crazies in the Hall of Administration in Santa Ana. One needs a gas mask to stand the stench.
We in Laguna Woods would be willing to discontinue commercial operations at John Wayne Airport if the tradeoff is no airport at the El Toro Marine Corps Air Station. We would consider that a small sacrifice of convenience for the certainty of never having another jet land or take off at El Toro. Remove the fear of what will happen at John Wayne Airport when the cap comes off in 2005 for an agreement of no jets at El Toro. No one is buying, but we believe this is a workable compromise. John Wayne Airport would be restricted to general aviation and shuttle flights. If the Safe and Healthy Communities Initiative doesn't resolve the problem, we would like to offer this alternative solution. Any sane person knows that an international airport for the 21st century would never be in a built-up community like that surrounding the air base. It's sheer madness driven by George Argyros-the two most profane words in Laguna Woods. Thank you for your incomparable series of watch columns done with skill, wit and wisdom.