July 14, 2000
BUCHANAN VOTER LIST CHALLENGED BY RIVAL
REFORM PARTY AUDIT CRUCIAL TO NOMINATION
By Vincent J. Schodolski
Tribune Staff Writer
LOS ANGELES -- Officials of the Reform Party said Thursday that they would undertake an independent audit of the party's voter lists following allegations that Pat Buchanan tried to tamper with the presidential nominating process by adding unauthorized names to those lists.
The allegations by Buchanan opponent John Hagelin center on charges that Buchanan added the names of longtime supporters from the Republican Party to petitions seeking to get his name on Reform Party ballots in several states, without informing those people or seeking their approval.
The dispute is the latest evidence of the deep divisions within the Reform Party, which has struggled to fill the void left by its founder, Ross Perot, who has stayed out of the limelight after dominating the party's early history....
The new charges, made by Buchanan's only rival for the party's presidential nomination, led to a vote late Wednesday by the party's Executive Committee approving the independent audit and canceling an earlier agreement with Buchanan that guaranteed him exclusive control over the estimated 400,000 to 500,000 names submitted on his behalf.
That agreement was important for Buchanan because party rules require that everyone on those petitions be sent a ballot for the mail-in vote that will select the Reform presidential candidate.
Even if a percentage of those on Buchanan's list returned their ballots, they could easily overwhelm the votes for his opponent, Hagelin, a theoretical physicist who holds Libertarian-leaning views and who twice has been the presidential candidate for the Natural Law Party.
The issue has added weight because under election law the Reform Party nominee will be entitled to $12 million in federal campaign funds--money that would greatly enhance the ability of the candidate to spread a message nationally.
Jim Mangia, the party's national secretary and a Hagelin supporter, on Thursday accused the Buchanan camp of trying to "corrupt" the nominating process.
"The names were illegally peppered with names of Republican campaign contributors," he said.
Hagelin said his staff was immediately suspicious of Buchanan's petitions because of the huge discrepancy between the number of names the former Republican presidential candidate submitted and the 26,000 names gathered by Hagelin supporters.
"Obviously to submit a list of 400,000 or 500,000 names, it raises questions," Hagelin said.
Brian Doherty, press director for the Buchanan campaign, refused comment on the allegations....
Hagelin's supporters say he is gaining support in California and New York, where about 80 percent of Reform Party members live.
Hagelin recently was endorsed by Lenora Fulani, a radical political thinker who backed Buchanan until early in June, when she deserted him after deciding Buchanan was moving too far to the right....
Hagelin on Thursday and in previous campaign appearances has espoused views that are much closer to the traditional Reform Party positions than those held by Buchanan.
He believes that because the country is so deeply divided on the issue of abortion, the government cannot and should not be involved in what he believes should be a deeply personal decision.
Hagelin is closer to Buchanan on trade, arguing that Republicans and Democrats have too easily negotiated deals that allow foreign partners to gain too much leverage over the U.S. market, leading to a loss of jobs in this country.
He also supports radical reform in the nation's education system, including the use of school vouchers, greater local control and the downsizing of the Department of Education.
On health care, he says the federal government is pouring huge amounts of money into treating diseases that could be prevented if federal law were changed to allow government-funded health services to engage in preventive care.