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Three LaRouche Contributors Say That’s Not What They Intended

January 7, 1988

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Three people listed as contributors to Lyndon LaRouche’s presidential campaign say they believed they were giving money to an anti-AIDS effort instead.

Federal Election Commission auditors and lawyers have called into question some of the checks LaRouche submitted in his effort to qualify for federal matching funds for his campaign.

However, officials in his campaign have said contributors were not misled. And two other contributors whose checks were questioned by the FEC staff say they knew they were donating to the presidential effort.

The checks in question contain notations about AIDS, the deadly acquired immune deficiency syndrome, or to SDI, the abbreviation for President Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative, instead of the 1988 election. Or else they have the initials of the payee written over to read ″LDC,″ apparently standing for the LaRouche Democratic Campaign.

The FEC’s legal counsel has recommended that the commission deny LaRouche federal matching funds for his campaign, because of past legal problems and difficulties in getting documents from the campaign. The counsel accused LaRouche, who is currently standing trial for charges stemming from his 1984 presidential campaign, of a ″general disregard″ for election law.

″The ambiguity of the use of initials, coupled with Mr. LaRouche’s history of fraudulent submissions creates a reasonable suspicion that the contributors may not have known that they were contributing to his 1988 presidential campaign,″ said counsel Lawrence Noble’s recommendation.

The FEC agreed to postpone its formal Thursday meeting on the matter after LaRouche attorneys asked to meet privately with commission staff to answer concerns about the checks.

LaRouche campaign chairwoman Debra Freeman denied any contributors were misled about where their money would go.

She noted the AIDS issue is a centerpiece of LaRouche’s fourth presidential bid and said that while fund-raisers ″do highlight to a very large degree that LaRouche is against the spread of AIDS,″ his presidential campaign also is discussed.

But that message did not get through to at least three contributors.

″I was under the impression it was for the AIDS cause,″ said Rhonda Olson-Beach, 32, of Le Mars, Iowa.

She said LaRouche supporters spoke to her outside the local post office, at a table to which she was drawn by large posters on AIDS. They told her to make out her $5 check to ″L.D.C.″

″I didn’t know that,″ she said when asked if she believed the initials stood for LaRouche Democratic Campaign, although she said she did know that the solicitors were LaRouche supporters.

″I’m not even going to vote for him,″ she added.

When Peter Marino of Nashua, N.H., learned Thursday from a reporter that his $5 check to LDC was in LaRouche’s campaign coffers, he said, ″If I could get my money back I would.″

″I didn’t even know I was contributing to a campaign. They caught me on the AIDS issue and that’s what I wrote my check abonry Brooker of Homestead, Fla., also thought he was giving money to fight AIDS when he wrote a $250 check to L.D.C. in September, said his wife Jacqueline Brooker.

AIDS was ″exactly″ what a LaRouche solicitor ″was talking about when she asked for it (the money),″ Mrs. Brooker said in a telephone interview.

″These people call up out of the blue and want to tell you a lot of things. We don’t know who they represent,″ Mrs. Brooker said.

She said she and her husband did know there was a LaRouche connection but were confused over some specifics of the solicitation calls, and her husband ″did not understand at that time″ that his money would go to LaRouche’s presidential campaign.

She complained that the couple was confused by fast-talking solicitors who present facts and information, ″expecting you to make all these decisions.″

Two other contributors whose checks were questioned said they were aware they were donating to the presidential effort.

Sarah Hawley Potter of Dallas wrote ″AIDS″ on the memo notation of her $250 check to L.D.C. But in a telephone interview she said, ″That was for his election.″ She added, ″I don’t know that I’m going to vote for him.″

Another contributor, Leona Thooft of Tyler, Minn., said she and her husband Amandus are behind LaRouche ″100 percent″ and have helped raise money for him. She said her husband has traveled to Germany with LaRouche to meet with farmers there on trade issues.

Asked why her $100 check was made out to ″SDI,″ then written over to read ″LDC, Mrs. Thooft said she did it herself. However, she added, ″I probably should have made another check instead of writing over it.″

SDI generally stands for Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative, popularly known as Star Wars, a program LaRouche staunchly supports.

LaRouche is currently on trial in Boston federal court, charged with conspiracy to obstruct a grand jury investigation into allegations of credit card fraud and irregularities in his 1984 presidential campaign.

He is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination for 1988 and is asking the FEC to certify him the 14th 1988 contender to get federal matching funds.

Ms. Freeman and LaRouche attorney Richard Mayberry complained that the FEC staff never notified them there were problems in the application for matching funds until the recommendation against LaRouche’s eligibility came out this week.

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