Hart Attack

Every so often, the stars line up in such a way that we common folk can glimpse the bizarre, incestuous underworld of Orange County politics. Such a phenomenon was the case a week ago when three Leisure World homeowner associations sued wealthy Newport Beach businessman and right-wing political activist George Argyros for underhandedly trying to thwart their vocal opposition to Argyros' pet project: the conversion of El Toro Marine Corps Air Station into an international cargo and passenger airport.

The homeowner associations hope to prove in court that Argyros--either personally or through his minions--secretly initiated costly frivolous litigation against them in retaliation for their anti-airport campaign last year. Like the majority of South County citizens, Leisure World residents are not thrilled with the thought of a noisy, polluting LAX-type operation in the middle of suburban Irvine.

According to William R. Hart, the attorney representing Leisure World, Argyros has been trying to intimidate the retirement community into keeping its collective checkbook closed and mouth shut about El Toro. While the TV news cameras were rolling at last week's press conference, Hart performed admirably for his clients, straightforwardly chiding Argyros for his tactics.

But wait a minute.

We know Argyros is a longtime Republican godfather, buddy of California GOP head honcho and Christian Coalition follower Michael Schroeder, and pal of defeated Republican Congressman Bob Dornan. Dornan is pressing a ridiculous case of voter fraud against Democratic victor Loretta Sanchez. Schroeder, you might remember, is one of two lawyers working for Dornan in his election-fraud sham. He is also the lawyer who sued his mother and, according to the Times O.C., plays political hardball.

So who is Hart, the local Republican attorney who was talking so macho about Argyros?

We were unable to confirm if the Leisure World associations were aware of the aforementioned. But these troubling links among Republican businessmen, politicians and lawyers raise an important question: How truly rigorous a representation will Leisure World residents get in their battle against Argyros?


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