Aug. 12, 2000 -- Bowing to pressure from partyleaders, California Rep. Loretta Sanchez agreed Friday to move a DemocraticNational Convention-week fund-raiser from the Playboy Mansion to aless controversial location.
The controversial party will now be held at Universal Studios. In exchange for the move, party officials restored the California lawmaker’sspeaking slot at the convention, which begins Monday.
“To continue to dwell on where our event is held, and whethermy role as a DNC officer conflicts with my role at a party for agood cause, frankly makes no sense,” Sanchez said in a statement.“The only real party I am interested in is a party that representsreal people, with real needs. That party is the Democratic Party.”
The fund-raising flap has ruffled feathers at a time when the Democratic presidential candidate, Al Gore, has been hoping to stress the issue of moral values.
On Thursday, Democratic National Committee chairman Joe Andrew had withdrawn Sanchez’ speakingassignment and threatened to remove her from her position as a DNC co-chair.
“I’m glad that by working together we were able to come up witha suitable location for her fund-raiser,” Andrew said in a statement that belied weeks of bitternegotiations.
Not About PlayboySanchez told NBC that Tuesday’s planned Hispanic voter-drivefund-raiser “has never been about the Playboy mansion. It’s beenabout putting on a good event and raising money.”
She said if another venue could be found to attract donors with“that kind of cachet … it’s quite possible we could put itsomeplace else.”
Gore also said Friday he supported the party’s decision to distanceitself from the event — and from Sanchez, a staunch supporter —despite his own acceptance of campaign money from Playboy magazineexecutives, including Hugh Hefner.
“It’s apples and oranges,” Gore said.
Gore explained that the symbolism ofDemocrats’ holding an event at the mansion, famed for its scantilyclad women, doesn’t compare with his acceptance of the checks.
Undermining Democratic Message
Democratic leaders fear that the event, though not sanctioned bythe party, could undermine attempts to portray Gore and runningmate Joseph Lieberman as pro-family—and could give Republicans aneasy target in the fall campaigns.
“We think an event at the Playboy mansion is not the rightimage and does not represent the values of our party, it doesn’trepresent the values of working Americans that Al Gore and JoeLieberman are fighting for,” Andrew said.
The sold-out party is billed as a fund-raiser for HispanicUnity USA, which promotes voter registration among Hispanics. Itis expected to draw about 600 people.
The Playboy Mansion hosts six to 10 fund-raisers and charityevents each year, said Bill Farley, a spokesman. Past events haveincluded fund-raisers for then-Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley andthen-Chicago Mayor Harold Washington.
Federal Election Commission records show that Gore’s campaign received $1,000 from Playboy founder Hugh Hefner on March 17, 1999, and $500 from Hefner’sdaughter, Christie, in April of this year.
—The Associated Press contributed to this report.