San Francisco (Reuters): A California Republican will no longer use a campaign fund-raising letter penned by Mel Gibson following the actor's anti-Semitic outburst during a traffic stop, the candidate's spokesman said. State Sen. Tom McClintock, Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, will stop mailing the letter in light of Gibson's comments after being pulled over for speeding last month, spokesman Stan Devereux said yesterday. Gibson has since been charged with drunk driving amid speculation his rant about Jews causing wars could affect his popularity and Hollywood career. Gibson has apologized and entered an alcohol treatment program.
''Tom was disillusioned by the Gibson incident and his comments and basically directed the campaign not to utilize that letter,'' Devereux said. California Democratic Party Chairman Art Torres issued a statement saying McClintock should return the funds raised by the letter. ''If McClintock wants his rejection of Gibson's support to be more than an empty gesture, he needs to return the money raised by the letter. Anything less is unacceptable,'' he said.
Republican political consultant Karen Hanretty said McClintock's Democratic challenger and state Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi should not make an issue of the Gibson letter. ''It's not unusual for politicians to be endorsed by entertainers who have problems in their past,'' Hanretty said. The entertainment industry has long played a role in California politics, providing campaign funds, activists, candidates and office-holders, including current Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and former Republican governor and US President Ronald Reagan. Prominent Hollywood Democrats who have mulled bids for the governor's office to unseat Schwarzenegger include actors Warren Beatty and Rob Reiner.