- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 16, 2000

LOS ANGELES (AP) U.S. Rep. Loretta Sanchez withdrew as a Democratic convention speaker after a clash with party leaders over her plan to hold a fund-raiser at the Playboy Mansion.
"We will honor her request," said Jennifer Backus, Democratic press secretary. "We are disappointed." She said Sanchez made the request early Monday. She had been scheduled to speak Monday afternoon.
Sanchez, of California, had agreed to move last weekend's fund-raiser to another location after party leaders revoked her speaking slot in the convention schedule. Her speaking role was then restored.
"Some people thought that I stepped away from this (the Playboy Mansion) because I was going to lose my speaking spot at the convention, or something. The reality is that's not true," Sanchez told Fox News Channel. "I moved it away because it was getting too much press, versus what we really have to do here at the convention. In fact, that is one of the reasons why I won't be speaking at this convention."
Sanchez, 40, became one of the nation's most prominent Latino officials in 1996 when she unseated Republican Robert Dornan.
Party leaders made her co-chair of the Democratic National Committee and she headed Al Gore's congressional political action committee in 1998.
But Gore was among the party officials worried that the fund-raiser at the Playboy Mansion would send the wrong message as the Democrats try to leave the Clinton years of sex and money scandals behind.
Democratic leaders feared that the event, though not sanctioned by the party, could undermine attempts to portray Gore and running mate Joseph Lieberman as family-oriented, and could give Republicans an easy target in the fall campaigns.
Gore said he supported the party's decision to distance itself from the event and from Sanchez, a staunch supporter despite his own acceptance of campaign money from Playboy, including a $1,000 donation Hugh Hefner made last year.


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