Preview of Hahn Hertzberg Attack
In a memo from Hahn's Girl Friday, Julie Wong, they've picked up the the same Vignali brush they used in racist attack ads against Tony Villar and plan to smear Hugs-a-bob. Will they show the big man with a crack pipe? Your guess is as good as mine.
Perhaps Mayor Hahn would do better to explain what he is going to do to clean up the most ethically corrupt administration since Frank Shaw (sorry Frank) but hey, that's not his job. He is now planning an all out attack on Hertzy on his right side and Tony Villar on his left.
(Thanks to our anonymous tipster for the dirt)
From: Hahn for Mayor 2005
Sent: Tuesday, February 15, 2005 12:13 PM
Subject: Hertzberg's Vignali connections
February 15, 2005
To: Interested Parties
From: Julie Wong
Re: Hertzberg's Vignali connections
In today's Los Angeles Times, John Shallman, campaign
strategist for former Assembly Speaker Bob Hertzberg
attacked Mayor Hahn as "an equal opportunity
slanderer" because Mayor Hahn had mentioned that
Hertzberg wrote a letter to the White House seeking a
pardon for convicted drug dealer Carlos Vignali.
There is nothing slanderous about reporting the truth.
As the LA Daily News reported, former Speaker
Hertzberg wrote to President Clinton on Dec. 7, 2000
requesting his "immediate consideration of approval"
of Carlos Vignali's request for his sentence to be
commuted, according to a copy of the letter released
by his office. "It is time to return Carlos Vignali
to his family and again, become a productive member of
society," he wrote. According to the LA Times, "In his
Dec. 7, 2000, letter to Clinton, Hertzberg, an
attorney, pointed out that 'neither guns, drugs nor
drug money was found in Mr. Vignali's possession.'"
According to that same report, former Speaker
Hertzberg knew Carlos Vignali's father, Horacio
Vignali, before he was elected to the Assembly in
1996. Horacio Vignali was an early contributor to
Hertzberg's Assembly campaign in 1995, writing a
$1,000 check on June 28, 1995. And Vignali
contributed to the 1994 Assembly campaign of Antonio
Villaraigosa, co-hosting an April 1994 reception for
him. Former Speaker Hertzberg was Villaraigosa's
Mayor Hahn disagrees with former Speaker Hertzberg's
and former Speaker Villaraigosa's efforts to obtain
clemency for a large-scale drug trafficker who was
convicted for moving 400 kilos of cocaine. He's even
more troubled that they were written as a favor to a
The Daily News of Los Angeles February 16, 2001,
Friday, VALLEY EDITION
Copyright 2001 Tower Media, Inc. The Daily News of Los
February 16, 2001, Friday, VALLEY EDITION
SECTION: NEWS, Pg. N1
LENGTH: 1195 words
HEADLINE: HERTZBERG HAD PART IN PARDON FLAP
BYLINE: Dominic Berbeo Staff Writer
BODY: State Assembly Speaker Bob Hertzberg urged
then-President Clinton to grant executive clemency to
a former Encino cocaine dealer, the lawmaker's office
The disclosure came on the same day that two leading
mayoral candidates came under fire from civil rights
groups for asking Clinton to release Carlos Vignali.
Meanwhile, campaign records reviewed by the Daily News
show that Vignali's father - Horacio Vignali - has
donated at least $ 140,000 to mostly Democratic
politicians and their political organizations since
the arrest and conviction of his son in 1994 for his
role in distributing some 800 pounds of crack cocaine.
''The spirit of executive pardons is to be fairly
applied to all,'' said Dan Macallair, vice president
of the Justice Policy Institute, a San Francisco-based
justice watchdog group. ''It should not be for sale.''
Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, wrote to Clinton on Dec. 7,
recommending ''your immediate consideration of
approval'' of Carlos Vignali's request for his
sentence to be commuted, according to a copy of the
letter released by his office.
''It is time to return Carlos Vignali to his family
and again, become a productive member of society,'' he
Hertzberg declined to comment. His spokesman Paul
Hefner said he did not know who had approached
Hertzberg to petition the president.
Besides Hertzberg, others who sent letters to Clinton
include Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-Los Angeles, and former
Assembly Speaker Antonio Villaraigosa, the latter two
among the leading candidates for mayor of Los Angeles.
On Jan. 20, his last day in office, Clinton set the
younger Vignali free by commuting his sentence.
''How do you reconcile these actions?'' said Earl
Ofari Hutchinson, president of the National Alliance
for Positive Action, a Los Angeles-based civil rights
group. ''We call on our elected officials to give the
same attention to those who can't afford to make large
Becerra and a political committee he controls called
Leadership of Today and Tomorrow received some $
15,000 in donations from the elder Vignali, mostly
last year. The congressman took a leading role in
contacting the White House to review the case and
consider a commutation of sentence.
While acknowledging that Vignali family members are
close friends, Becerra insists that he urged Clinton
to review the case for the sake of fairness at the
request of Horacio Vignali.
''I wrote a letter to the president requesting further
investigation of the Vignali case to assure justice
was served and I placed calls to the White House and
U.S. Department of Justice to check on the status of
this request,'' Becerra said.
Villaraigosa, who says he ''regrets'' sending the
letter, received at least $ 275 from Horacio Vignali.
Hertzberg has known the elder Vignali since before
being elected to the Assembly in 1996, and was moved
by the man's belief in the innocence of his son, said
The only record of a Vignali contribution to
Hertzberg, Hefner said, was $ 4,000 in 1995.
While there is nothing illegal with the
communications, some are raising questions of the
appropriateness of large political donors having
access to high-ranking public officials.
''People are outraged by this,'' said Bob Stern,
president of The Center for Governmental Studies, a
Santa Monica-based political watchdog group. ''How
many parents of other convicted criminals have this
kind of access?''
Carlos Vignali had served more than six years of a
15-year sentence after being convicted in Minnesota
for his role in an interstate drug ring. Vignali, a
onetime Encino resident, is still subject to five
years of probation.
Other Los Angeles figures who supported Vignali
include former Democratic Congressman Esteban Torres,
Cardinal Roger Mahony of the Los Angeles Archdiocese
and state Sen. Richard Polanco, D-Los Angeles, who is
running for the City Council seat in the 1st District.
Mahony apologized Monday for his intervention.
Horacio Vignali, a mechanic and owner of a used-auto
shop in downtown Los Angeles, had close ties to many
local Latino politicians and hosted fund-raiser meals
in a parking lot he owned across the street from
Staples Center, with one as recently as last June for
Becerra, said one political insider.
Some other big donations made by Horacio Vignali since
1998 include $ 48,400 to Gov. Gray Davis and $ 35,000
to the Democratic Party and various Democratic
officeholders in California.
Los Angeles Times February 16, 2001 Friday Correction
Copyright 2001 Los Angeles Times All Rights Reserved
Los Angeles Times
February 16, 2001 Friday Correction Appended Home
SECTION: METRO; Part B; Metro Desk; Pg. 1
LENGTH: 973 words
HEADLINE: MOLINA, HERTZBERG WROTE LETTERS FOR
CONVICT'S PARDON; CLEMENCY: BUSINESSMAN ALSO ENLISTED
MIKE HERNANDEZ TO CONTRIBUTE TO 'CONSTANT BARRAGE OF
REQUESTS' TO HELP HIS SON.; FOR THE RECORD
BYLINE: TED ROHRLICH and RICH CONNELL and ROBERT J.
LOPEZ, TIMES STAFF WRITERS
A Los Angeles businessman waging a six-year campaign
to free his drug-dealing son from federal prison
persuaded state Assembly Speaker Robert Hertzberg, Los
Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina and Los
Angeles City Councilman Mike Hernandez to write
President Clinton late last year, urging Clinton to
commute the son's sentence.
The officials joined six other high-profile
politicians with strong ties to the Latino community,
and the cardinal of Los Angeles, who all wrote letters
for Horacio Carlos Vignali, a gregarious downtown
parking lot operator, car dealer and real estate
investor who has been active in recent years as a
On his last day in office, Clinton ordered the release
of Vignali's son, who had been convicted of conspiring
to sell 800 pounds of cocaine.
The commutation drew attention to officials who helped
the father in his quest. Some of them said they had
never written such appeal letters before.
Why they did so this time appears to be, at least in
part, a tribute to the extraordinary persistence and
access of Vignali, who spent years badgering elected
officials to help him spring his son, Carlos. In 1994,
the younger Vignali was convicted in federal court in
Minneapolis and sentenced to 14 years, seven months in
prison. He was 22 at the time.
Since then, the elder Vignali has given about $
152,000 in campaign contributions, including $ 1,000
to Hertzberg, a Sherman Oaks Democrat with strong ties
to Latino politics, public records show. Hertzberg was
the Sacramento roommate of former Assembly Speaker and
current Los Angeles mayoral candidate Antonio
Villaraigosa, who also wrote the White House on behalf
Hertzberg's spokesman, Paul Hefner, said Thursday that
the speaker met Vignali in the early 1990s at a
community event. Ever since, he said, "Mr. Vignali has
expressed profound love for his son." Hefner said the
letter was not related to any campaign contributions.
In his Dec. 7, 2000, letter to Clinton, Hertzberg, an
attorney, pointed out that "neither guns, drugs nor
drug money was found in Mr. Vignali's possession."
Prosecutors used wiretap recordings and testimony from
informants to win Vignali's conviction.
Hefner said, "the father was just adamant about his
son's innocence." Hertzberg was not available for
Hernandez and Molina addressed their letters to
Molina said the Vignali family had neither donated to
her campaigns nor raised money for her. She came to
know the elder Vignali in the past two or three years,
Molina said, because he is a friend of her husband,
Ron Martinez, an affirmative action consultant.
She said Vignali made "a constant barrage of requests"
to her to write a letter. She said she had been
approached before by other parents in similar
situations and had declined to write on their behalf.
Vignali finally wore her down. "He kept literally
begging," she said Thursday.
As Christmas approached, she said, she agreed but told
him it would probably do no good.
Vignali had furnished her with information about his
son's prison record, which she cited in the Dec. 20
letter, calling upon Clinton to consider commuting his
Molina, who was vice chairwoman of the Democratic
National Convention, said she would not write any more
such letters because such cases should be evaluated by
judges and prosecutors who know the facts.
Hernandez, who himself pleaded guilty to a cocaine
possession charge in 1997, said Thursday that he wrote
his Dec. 4 letter because "I understood his the elder
Vignali's concern as a father. . . . He the younger
Vignali had already had done time . . . I thought
writing the letter was appropriate.'
Records show the elder Vignali and his family gave $
2,500 to Hernandez during his successful 1993
campaign, before Carlos Vignali was arrested. Vignali
later hosted the councilman and his staff in a retreat
at his Pacific Palisades home.
Hernandez' letter, like Molina's, cites Carlos
Vignalis' good prison record, noting he earned his
high school equivalency degree and was named "student
of the year" while behind bars.
Molina said that, in persuading her to write a letter,
the elder Vignali said he had even talked to the
governor. A Davis spokesman said Thursday: "We have no
requests from Horacio Carlos Vignali to write a letter
and there were no letters written by Gov. Davis."
Campaign finance reports show that Vignali held a
fund-raiser for Davis in June that raised more than $
75,000, including $ 25,900 from Vignali himself.
Vignali had given Davis $ 23,500 before he became
Other previously reported letters came from:
* Democratic U.S. Rep. and Los Angeles mayoral
candidate Xavier Becerra, who wrote Clinton in
November, citing the "personal crusade" of the
imprisoned Vignali's parents, who "are dear friends of
mine." The Vignalis have donated more than $ 5,000 to
* Villaraigosa, who wrote the White House pardon
secretary in 1996, and who received more than $ 5,000
from the Vignalis.
* Former U.S. Rep. Esteban E. Torres, who wrote Atty.
Gen Janet Reno in 1996 and Clinton in 1998. No
contributions were reported to Torres.
* State Sen. Richard Polanco, D-Los Angeles, who wrote
the White House pardon secretary in 1996. The Vignalis
have given Polanco more than $ 20,000.
* Former Los Angeles City Councilman Richard Alatorre,
who also wrote the pardon secretary in 1996. The
Vignalis had donated $ 1,500 to his campaigns.
* Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, who later expressed
regret, calling his letter "a serious mistake."
Villaraigosa and Becerra have also expressed regret
about their letters.
* Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca, who urged only
that prison officials move the younger Vignali to a
prison closer to Los Angeles. Two years after Baca's
letter, Carlos Vignali was moved to Arizona from the