Author of Silver Attack Flier Speaks

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Sheldon Silver Assembly challenger Paul Newell has been getting strong assistance from Elizabeth Crothers, the former Assembly aide whose rape accusations against Silver's former Chief Counsel -- which accusations a previously unsympathetic Silver was later forced to acknowledge -- have been frequently revisited during the campaign.

A mailer Crothers sent out yesterday, reiterating her charges, was also widely covered, and quickly attacked by Silver's campaign, which pointed out that the co-founder of the organization that funded it, the Common Sense Coalition, is Dan Perrin, who is also president of the HSA Coalition, which advocates health savings accounts as an alternative to Democratic health care proposals, and a former executive director of the American Taxpayers Alliance, which fought, some say nefariously, to unseat California Governor Gray Davis in 2002.

We asked Crothers about this. She says she knew of Perrin's involvement with the Coalition, and that he had in fact been the one who approached her about funding the mailer. "I guess he saw the story in the Times," she says. But Crothers also says that Perrin had told her he had "no agenda" but to get her story before the public, and she believed him.

"I didn't really do intense research" on Perrin or the Common Sense Coalition, Crothers tells us, though she did learn he had co-written a book, America's Health Care Crisis Solved: Money-Saving Solutions, Coverage for Everyone, and that it was "pretty much what you'd expect." (The book was endorsed by formerly Bush senior health policy advisor Roy Ramthun.) She took that in stride, and asked Perrin if CSC "had been involved in really controversial issues, and he said no."

Asked about Newell's involvement, Crothers says she had only mentioned to Newell that "someone" had talked to her about doing a flyer on her case and that they didn't discuss it again. She also says that she last spoke to Perrin yesterday, before she had seen the press accounts, and he asked her what reporters she'd been talking to.

Though she was "shocked" to read the Silver campaign's attacks yesterday, she says she's "comfortable" with the mailing and its funding source. "I don't think it's relevant what connections he has had," Crothers tells us. "I would have been more cautious if he'd tried to influence the content, but he was very hands-off in the whole process." She says though Perrin's people designed the mailer, all the words were her own, and adds it was her idea to add "Paid for by the Common Sense Coalition" to the mailer because she "didn't want to dilute the message" by raising questions about its funding.

Crothers, who has written about public policy for the pro-business California site Fox & Hounds Daily, describes herself as an "economic moderate," though on reconsideration doesn't like to use the word "moderate" because she's "socially very liberal."

We didn't ask Newell about this, or about his specific position on national health care (his website mainly refers to "health care for all") because this story was written in the middle of the night.


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