August 30, 2003 05:26am
Religious Group to Schwarzenegger: 'Come Clean'
(SAN FRANCISCO, CA) -- A prominent California-based religious group is calling on Arnold Schwarzenegger to set the record straight over a 1977 [Oui Magazine] interview in which the Republican candidate for California governor discussed taking part in an orgy and using marijuana.
Californians for Moral Government said it wanted the action star to "come clean and fully repent and repudiate the years of sexual promiscuity that have been reported," the Rev. Louis Sheldon, the group's chairman, said on Friday in a letter.
Californians for Moral Government is a project of the Traditional Values Victory Fund, part of the Traditional Values Coalition. The Anaheim, California-based TVC touts itself as the largest non-denominational, grass-roots church lobby in America with a membership of about 43,000 churches, including most Christian denominations.
The letter was addressed to 20 of the state assembly's 32 Republicans who have endorsed Schwarzenegger, the leading Republican candidate fighting to become California's next governor. Schwarzenegger and 132 others are battling for the top job in the nation's richest state in an unprecedented recall vote on Oct. 7.
Calls to Schwarzenegger's campaign and to the TVC were not immediately returned.
Schwarzenegger has been hounded in recent days by questions about a 1977 interview with the long-defunct men's magazine, Oui, in which he described his experiences with smoking marijuana and group sex when he was 29.
On Thursday, the actor-turned politician said he had "no idea what you are talking about" when asked at a news conference about the magazine interview.
In its letter, the coalition asked: "Is Arnold a Republican version of Bill Clinton?," a reference to the former U.S. president's extramarital dalliances and sexual misdemeanors.
The coalition asked the Republican lawmakers "to consider holding off on persisting with your endorsement of Mr. Schwarzenegger" until Schwarzenegger addresses the matter.
As a Republican, Schwarzenegger is trying to reach out to the party's powerful conservative wing who might prefer a more conservative candidate like State Sen. Tom McClintock, a long-time veteran of the California Legislature.
Polls show a majority of Californians would vote to recall Democratic Gov. Gray Davis, who is unpopular because of his handling of the state's finances. A recent Los Angeles Times survey found Democratic Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante is in the lead to replace his boss, followed by Schwarzenegger.