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For week ended March 26, 2000 Posted 24 Feb 2001
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Sent on Mormon-News: 05Apr00

Summarized by Kent Larsen

LDS Conservative Howard Ruff Takes On Hillary Clinton
New York Observer pg1 20Mar00 P2
By Greg Sargent and Josh Benson


Utahn Warns Nation: HRC May Bite
Salt Lake Tribune 23Mar00 P2
By Dan Harrie: Salt Lake Tribune

NEW YORK, NEW YORK -- LDS investment guru and conservative political activist Howard Ruff is sounding dire warnings and pledging to raise "whatever it takes" to prevent the election of First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton as U.S. Senator from New York. Ruff's political action committee, Ruffpac, has paid for and will soon air in upstate New York a TV spot critical of Mrs. Clinton.

The commercial attacks Clinton first for her short tenure as a New York resident. Showing a shot of babies and puppies playing in Central Park, it asks, "What do these babies and puppies have in common?" and answers, "They have all lived in New York longer than Hillary Rodham Clinton."

The entrance of Ruff and Ruffpac into New York politics emphasizes how the highly-charged race has gained national attention and involvement. The loathing of Mrs. Clinton by so-called social conservatives is so deep that they are sending checks from throughout the U.S. to keep her out of the Senate. And New York's Republican mayor Rudolph Giuliani is happily exploiting the situation, making fund-raising appeals to out-of-state donors.

But Ruff's campaign is independent of Giuliani's, as required by camgaign finance laws. Ruff's group is known for pouring money into right-wing causes, including aid to anti-Communist rebel in Mozambique and Angola and funding attempts to defeat powerful Democrats.

Ruff, 69, is a devout LDS Church member with 48 grandchildren. He writes a financial newsletter named 'The Ruff Times' from Springville, Utah, advising subscribers to stock emergency supplies for a coming economic catastrophe, a call he has made since he rose to prominence in the 1970s. His financial advice is likewise conservative, leading him to propose a return to the gold standard.

In a February 29th issue of The Ruff Times, he wrote, "I am assigning Ruffpac the job of defeating Hillary. It's a lot easier to kill a 12-inch baby snake than to kill a 12-foot king cobra. We need to stop this woman before she gets into an official position of power. We traditionalists are an embattled minority in a war we are losing that we hardly know is going on!"

Ruff told the New York Observer that his subscribers are starting to respond, "The money has just started to trickle in." The money will fund the babies and puppies TV ad, to be aired in Albany and Utica, New York, and a second ad that shows the Statue of Liberty morphing into Mrs. Clinton. The group will also air a wave of anti-Hillary radio ads in upstate New York in the coming months. It has also paid for a full-page fundraising appeal that appeared in The Washington (D.C.) Times, the conservative newspaper owned by the Rev. Sun Yung Moon's Unification Church.

To many, Ruff seems like a harmless dilettante who is somehow getting into politics. Ruff is known to sing in his happier moments, recalling an earlier career as a singer that led to an appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show and an album he recorded with the Osmonds called "Howard Ruff Sings."

But Ruff's political abilities shouldn't be easily dismissed. Ruffpac has raised and spent more than $25 million since 1981 on various causes and candidates, including the write-in victory of LDS Republican Representative Ron Packard in California in 1982. It also got involved in fighting the Rev. Jesse Jackson's 1988 presidential bid and fought against former U.S. House Speaker Jim Wright.

Through another group, Free the Eagle, Ruff helped rally members of Congress behind infamous Lieut. Col. Oliver North and the Contras in Nicaragua. And Free the Eagle also provided office space and PR advice to anti-Communist rebels in Mozambique and Angola.

But Ruff has run afowl of the law on occasion. The Federal Election Commission has fined Ruffpac twice and Free the Eagle once for illegal activities supporting Senator Jesse Helms and Senator Orrin Hatch, among others. And critics also take aim at the "stealth" nature of Ruff's campaigns, which often leave even his beneficiaries unaware of his help. One former U.S. Representative from the Midwest who received help from Ruffpac said, "Until you mentioned Howard Ruff's name, I didn't know who he was. I always thought Ruff was some kind of acronym."

Paradoxically, Giuliani is far more moderate that Ruff on social issues. Giuliani, for example, advocates gun control to a point, while Ruff is vehemently against it, "I think gun control is probablyone of the stupidest ideas that ever came along," Mr. Ruff said. "I live in a community where there really aren't any murders. And everybody has guns. They're all hunters out here. And I think hunting is stupid. I mean, I don't want to shoot anything. Heck, I even cry when Dumbo's mother gets locked up when I go to the movies. And Bambi tears my heart out every time I see it-even though I know what a propaganda piece it is."

But Ruff and other conservatives' disdain for the Clintons have helped them overlook Giuliani's social liberalism, including his support for immigration and for gay rights. And Ruff is frank about his views of Giuliani, "We are not here supporting Giuliani. We are in this because we are violently opposed to Hillary."

But Ruffpac has a tough road ahead given the current climate in New York. Giuliani's popularity has fallen in recent weeks, as New York City struggles to deal with a string of suspicious shootings by police that have all been compared to last-year's shooting of Hatian immigrant Amadiou Diallo. Some polls this week even show Mrs. Clinton ahead of Giuliani now.

But a victory by Mrs. Clinton isn't the only fear Ruff has. He is sure that the victory would only be a first step, "Make no mistake," he wrote in a recent issue of The Ruff Times. "Her goal is to return to the White House, only this time as President."


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