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— Liberal Rhode Island Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy made an unheralded swing through San Diego County last month in search of political mother's milk, otherwise known as campaign cash. Kennedy, son of Senator Ted, was joined by fellow congressional Democrat Richard Gephardt on a coast-to-coast tour of wealthy liberal and defense contractor enclaves, collecting as much as $650,000 in campaign money. Washington observers say the mega-fundraising is part of a strategy to groom Patrick for Republican incumbent John Chafee's senate seat, which is up for grabs in the year 2000. For his part, Gephardt is eyeing the presidency. During the first week of August, Kennedy and Gephardt hit Boston, Seattle, Palm Springs, and San Francisco, in addition to an undisclosed San Diego County location, where a lavish party was reportedly held to collect funds for the political action committees of both men. Though no one would say who hosted the bash, which was concealed from local media, William Lerach, the wealthy Rancho Santa Fe lawyer, has in the past supported Kennedy's father and his cousin Joseph, the Massachusetts Democrat who just pulled out of the governor's race there. Records also show that GDE Systems of Rancho Bernardo and La JollaPbased defense consultant Science Applications International contributed to Patrick Kennedy last year.

Ghost of Larry past

How much was really paid for the Hotel del Coronado? A press release from Lowe Enterprises, which says it bought the hotel on behalf of an unnamed pension fund, claims the price was $330 million cash. But county records show the cash price was about $150 million or so, plus mortgages. The only apparent mortgage on the property was taken out by late owner Larry Lawrence in July 1987. Records filed in conjunction with last week's sale to Lowe show that it was originally worth about $230 million, current value undisclosed. The records also reveal that the mortgage was not paid off, but instead transferred to a Lowe-related holding company as part of last week's deal. County sources say a full-bore audit of the sale is planned to determine the true value of the complicated transaction for tax purposes.

Susan's Sipple

The controversy over Don Sipple, the Republican campaign consultant with ties to Mayor Susan Golding, isn't going away just yet. Latest volley was fired last week by the Missouri Democratic Party, which charged that state's Republican Senator Christopher S. Bond of trying to cover up his own connection with Sipple. Accused in a Mother Jones expose of wife-beating, Sipple sued the magazine last week in Los Angeles, alleging that the charges were false and that they interfered with his "prospective economic advantage." In court documents, Sipple also maintained that he had "ongoing economic relationships in the form of agreements and contracts" with Bond, Governor George Bush of Texas, as well as Golding. In response to the Democrats' charges, a Bond aide told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that Sipple "has not been paid a penny" by Bond since 1992.

Kittle's baggage

How hard is it to get a mistaken editorial corrected by the Union-Tribune? Just ask attorney Kim Cox, who noticed that a recent U-T editorial tirade against the people's right to recall elected officials had failed to mention the case of Linda Bernhardt. Cox wrote the paper to point out that Bernhardt, a San Diego city councilwoman back in the '80s, had been tossed from office in one of the city's most celebrated recalls. The U-T, which is denigrating current recall efforts against councilmembers Harry Mathis and Barbara Warden, had been a vociferous proponent of the Bernhardt recall. The paper ran Cox's letter, but edited out the reference to Bernhardt. Then Cox wrote Gina Lubrano, the U-T's "Reader's Representative," complaining about the censoring of his letter. Lubrano wrote back saying, "Robert Kittle, the editor of the editorial page, handles corrections on editorials.... I am sending your letter to Mr. Kittle because, as you said in your letter, your intention was to correct an error in an editorial." Thus far, Cox says, he has yet to receive a response from Kittle.

Contributor: Matt Potter

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