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
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."