Tuesday, October 08, 2002

Simple Simon: I almost feel bad for the guy.

Act I: The Debate.

After accusing Davis of setting "an awful ethical tone" in office, Simon demanded in the debate that the governor give a simple "Yes or No" answer as to whether he accepted such an illegal donation while in his government office.

Davis refused, saying that he had done nothing that violated the law. "I have always abided by the law and have no recollection of not doing so," Davis said.

In an after-debate news conference, Simon was pressed by skeptical reporters if he had evidence that the governor had accepted an illegal campaign contribution and said-- amid similar cries of "Yes or No" that echoed his debate words to the governor -- that he did and it "would be presented very shortly."

Act II: The Evidence.

LOS ANGELES - The head of a law enforcement group backing Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Simon released two photos Tuesday that he claimed show Democratic Gov. Gray Davis (news - web sites) illegally accepting a $10,000 campaign contribution in the state Capitol.

Monty Holden, executive director of the California Organization of Police and Sheriffs, said the 1998 photos were taken in the office of the lieutenant governor, the post Davis held at the time.

California law makes it a crime to receive contributions in state office buildings.

Davis strategist Garry South dismissed the photos as "bogus" and said the office shown was not the lieutenant governor's office.

"There's nothing in this office that was in the lieutenant governor's office," he said. "Not the artwork, not the doors, not even the carpet. Bogus."

The photos show Davis accepting a check from Al Angele, then executive director of COPS. Davis was running for his first term as governor at the time.

Davis said the meeting took place in his campaign office in Los Angeles, which would not be illegal.

Angele said the charge by current members of COPS — a group that once supported Davis — is "totally unbelievable."

"I've never been in (Davis') office in my life," said Angele, now a Davis appointee to the Board of Prison Terms. "I don't understand it. It's out of left field."

Simon initially made the allegation Monday after the candidates met in Los Angeles for their first debate before the Nov. 5 election.

But Tuesday, Simon backed off, saying it was a matter between COPS and the Fair Political Practices Commission. "It's not my allegation. ... This is California Organization of Police and Sheriffs speaking, not me," Simon told KGO-AM.

Act III: The Humiliating Loss...