COPS retracts fund-raising claim against Gov. Davis

Erica Werner The Associated Press
Thursday October 10, 2002

LOS ANGELES — A group that accused Gov. Gray Davis of illegal fund-raising retracted the allegation Wednesday as Republican opponent Bill Simon sought to contain political fallout from having turned the claim into a campaign issue. 

“It now appears that our original belief was erroneous,” the California Organization of Police and Sheriffs said in a statement issued late Wednesday. 

Davis had called on Simon to drop out of the race after Simon accused him of illegally accepting a campaign check inside the state Capitol in 1998 during his first run for governor. 

Simon’s evidence turned out to be two photos released Tuesday by COPS, one of his main backers, that he claimed showed then-Lt. Gov. Davis taking money in the lieutenant governor’s office. It is illegal to give or receive a campaign contribution in a state building. 

It became clear almost immediately, however, that the pictures were not taken in the lieutenant governor’s office. 

They were taken in a private home in Santa Monica, the home’s then-owner confirmed Wednesday. 

“We regret the impact this erroneous information has had in the Simon campaign and on the distraction of their message to the voters of California,” COPS said. 

Simon issued a short statement late Wednesday describing the confirmation by the owner of the Santa Monica home. 

“I accept this explanation. It now appears that the complaint of the California Organization of Police and Sheriffs was unfounded,” the statement said.