Fly as Antelope Judicial Contest Draws Toward Close
By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer
Charges and countercharges flew Friday in the contest for an open judicial seat in the Antelope Valley.
Supporters of Deputy District Attorney Chris Estes issued a statement accusing the prosecutor's opponent, Lancaster attorney David Bianchi, of misleading voters by purchasing space on a slate mailer that includes references to law enforcement support of his candidacy. Most law enforcement groups and officers who have issued endorsements in the race are backing Estes, as Bianchi's camp concedes.
But Bianchi responded in kind, noting that Estes has purchased space on slate mailers, including those which—according to Bianchi—imply backing from the Republican and Democratic parties.
The Republican Central Committee of Los Angeles County does not endorse judicial candidates. Its Democratic counterpart does make endorsements in some judicial contests, but did not do so in the contest between Bianchi and Estes, who are both Republicans.
Bianchi also blasted Estes for buying onto slates produced by Tim Carey, a longtime South Bay slate vendor who has a conviction for child molestation and is a registered sex offender.
No Direct Dealings
Carey's role in the campaign was the subject of a Feb. 26 story in the Antelope Valley Press. Estes said he didn't know Carey, didn't know about his background, and had no direct dealings with the consultant.
Those matters were handled by attorney and local political power broker R. Rex Parris, who is supporting Estes, the candidate told the Valley Press.
Estes and Bianchi are running in tomorrow's election in the former Antelope Municipal Court District.
Because of court unification, the winner will be sworn in January as a Superior Court judge.
At issue on Friday was a mailer called the California Law Enforcement Voter Guide, produced by campaign consultant and slate mail guru Fred Huebscher. In addition to producing that guide and other professional slates, Huebscher is Bianchi's consultant.
The guide urges support for various candidates who purchased space, including Superior Court Judge Pamela Rogers. Rogers, who was elected in the Antelope district six years ago, is seeking re-election on Tuesday against two opponents.
The guide also urged support for Concerns of Police Survivors, also known as COPS, a non-profit group that assists widows and children of police killed in the line of duty.
The Valley Press, in a story scheduled for publication this past Saturday, reported that Superior Court Judge Randolph Rogers appeared at a Friday press conference with law enforcement officers who back Estes.
Randolph Rogers is the husband of Pamela Rogers as well as the assistant treasurer of her campaign. He has also taken on active role in Estes' effort.
Randolph Rogers said the Bianchi mailer was misleading because it implied that COPS and Pamela Rogers were backing Bianchi. Huebscher said no such endorsement was intended or implied, and the reference to COPS was merely intended to urge support for that organization.
Huebscher also produced a copy of an e-mail sent to an associate of his by Randolph Rogers, which included a request that Estes and Pamela Rogers both be given space on the Law Enforcement Voter Guide. The e-mail included a warning that "it would be a violation of the canons of ethics for Mr. Estes' opponent to appear on the law enforcement slate because it would be a false and misleading statement about both Mr. Estes' opponent and Mr. Estes," since Estes rather than Bianchi has the bulk of law enforcement support.
Randolph Rogers told the Valley Press that he asked Huebscher to take Pamela Rogers' name off the slate rather than have it appear with Bianchi's. Huebscher said there was some discussion of that possibility, but that he never received a formal cancellation order and carried Pamela Rogers because the space was paid for.
Huebscher said everything he and Bianchi have done is completely above board. Huebscher charged that Randolph Rogers violated the canons of ethics by issuing what amounted to a threat and lending the prestige of judicial office to Estes' campaign effort.
Huebscher said he intends to take the matter up with the Commission on Judicial Performance.
Randolph Rogers told the Valley Press he would not comment on his communications with Huebscher. Bianchi stood by his consultant, saying Huebscher was "completely professional."
Huebscher joined Bianchi in criticizing Estes and Pamela Rogers for their involvement with Carey. Huebscher noted that Carey had mailed letters to him and other slate mail vendors before Estes had formally announced his candidacy, asking that they reserve space for Estes and Pamela Rogers, whom he described as friends.
Copyright Metropolitan News Company, 2000