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GOP Candidate Hired Poll Guards: Report

November 18, 1988 GMT

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) _ A Republican Assembly candidate’s campaign paid for signs reading ″Non- citizens can’t vote″ that uniformed guards carried in Hispanic neighborhoods on Election Day, campaign officials said.

Assembly Democrats have said they plan to file a federal lawsuit on behalf of at least 12 Hispanics who said they were intimidated and did not vote.

Republican Curt Pringle, declared the winner over Christian Thierbach by 867 votes after absentee ballots were counted, said Thursday he knew an aide was working on the polling program but didn’t know the program’s specifics.

″Maybe that will come down badly on me,″ he said.

Pringle’s campaign organization paid for the signs over the objections of Orange County Republican Central Committee Chairman Thomas Fuentes, according to Fuentes and Pringle’s campaign manager, Marcia Gilchrist.

Fuentes said he was surprised when he saw the signs Nov. 8.

However, the guards were hired by the county GOP organization, which said it had heard rumors that Democrats were going to bring in people not legally able to vote.

And Fuentes had initially said he took responsibility for the polling program, which has been condemned by both Democratic and Republican leaders.

″Tom Fuentes is doing the Olympic backstroke,″ said Democratic Party Chairman John Hanna. ″After initially taking some of the responsibility, he’s been shocked at what many of us see is the quite obvious uproar, and now he’s trying to protect his own political future.″