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Facing Debt, Wilson Orders Restructuring to Trim Campaign Costs

September 19, 1995

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Worried about a growing debt, California Gov. Pete Wilson has asked his top presidential campaign aide to revamp the organization and bring spending in line with sluggish fund raising.

Wilson ordered the changes in two weekend conversations with Craig Fuller, his campaign chairman. In doing so, Wilson also cleared up a power struggle within the campaign by giving Fuller clear authority.

But he also drew fresh attention to the organizational and financial problems that have plagued his campaign from the outset.

One Republican who informally advises the Wilson camp, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the campaign’s debt was roughly $1 million.

This strategist said Anne LeGassick, Wilson’s finance chairwoman, was likely to be demoted. Another adviser, however, said Monday night that LaGassick had informed friends in the campaign she was likely to resign rather than accept a lesser role.

Earlier, Wilson spokesman Dan Schnur confirmed that Wilson had asked Fuller to direct a restructuring and trim costs. But he said the review was just beginning and he was not aware of any specific personnel decisions. He declined to discuss the campaign’s financial situation.

Just last week, the campaign announced that Fuller, a veteran Republican operative, would shift from Sacramento to Washington. The campaign also announced that veteran GOP operative James Wray would be named campaign director, also working out of Washington.

The odd man out in this arrangement is George Gorton, the longtime Wilson strategist who has the title of campaign manager. Gorton is expected to serve in a senior strategic role, but Fuller and Wray are assuming most managerial duties.

The staff shakeups and cost-cutting efforts come on the heels of Wilson’s decision to pull out of Iowa and concentrate on early primaries in New Hampshire and elsewhere in the Northeast. Rival campaigns said the moves reflect strategic disarray and dire financial trouble within the Wilson campaign.

Cost-cutting also raises questions as to whether Wilson will have the money to continue his early television advertising, or to spend the $500,000 or more advisers believe will be needed to gather the signatures necessary to qualify for the New York primary ballot.

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