The Republican party, lead by Ronald Reagan, will surely win the U.S. November election. The Republicans are now leading by 10 to 15 points in some polls (Gallup), and the Democrats, led by Walter Mondale, do not seem able to close the gap.
Mondale’s choice of Geraldine Ferraro as his vice-presidential running mate now causes him much embarrassment. Mondale had been more-or-less forced by the National Organization for Women (NOW) to pick a woman as vice-presidential candidate. NOW, which in previous elections has not openly endorsed a candidate of any party, came out early for Mondale. With the so-called “gender gap” receiving much attention in the U.S. media, Mondale bowed to feminist pressure.
Government funded abortion
Government-funded abortion is a specific plank in the platform of the Democratic party: the Republicans and Ronald Reagan are staunchly pro-life. (Reagan is the only U.S. president every to author a strong pro-life essay: it first appeared in the Human Life Review, and was subsequently published as a book. Moreover, Reagan takes every opportunity to let American voters know where his sympathies lie. At the Republican convention in Dallas recently, the party unanimously endorsed Reagan for its leader. In his acceptance speech, Reagan stressed his commitment to life.
By contrast, Mondale’s campaign so far has appealed to the pro-abortion voter: his Democrat party calls itself “pro-choice” rather than the more blunt, and more accurate, “pro-abortion.”
Geraldine Ferraro was not long nominated before her record became public knowledge. She has been a congresswoman from Queens, New York, since 1978. On 14 abortion-related votes in the House, Ferraro voted pro-abortion on all occasions. Ferraro has voted for unrestricted funding for abortion both under Medicaid and under federal employees’ health insurance plans. (Taxpayers subsidize both programmes.)
In the June 1982 Congressional Record, Ferraro stated: “I have consistently opposed all these efforts to inject the Government into what is an intensely personal decision for a woman and her doctor as inappropriate in a free society and as blatantly anti-woman.”
A “personally-opposed” Catholic?
Ferraro’s votes also include a vote against an amendment to prohibit federal funding of Medicaid experiments on living unborn children, intended for abortion (Sept. 30, 1982), a vote to pass the Equal Rights Amendment without an “abortion neutralization” agreement (Nov. 15, 1983), and a vote to deny ordinary medical care to handicapped newborn babies (Feb. 2, 1984).
Ferraro has repeatedly received campaign contributions from the National Abortion Rights Action League’s Political Action Committee (NARAL PAC). Before her vice-presidential nomination, the NARAL PAC contributed $1,000 to her congressional re-election campaign.
She is a “personally-opposed Catholic,” and has lent her support to the pro-abortion “Catholics for Free Choice” organization. During a House debate on abortion-funding on June 27, 1979, Ferraro said “As a Catholic, I accept the premise that a fertilized ovum is a baby. I have been blessed with the gift of faith, but others have not. I have no right to impose my beliefs on them.”
Ms Ferraro also equates “unwanted” children as criminals. In Ms Magazine (July 1984) she said, “It’s a simple matter of economics. Unwanted children so often end up in the criminal justice system as offenders or as persons in need of supervision and it’s very expensive to take care of them.”
At a pro-abortion conference in 1983, Ferraro even stated that she would approve her own grandchild being aborted. “If either one of my girls, then aged 16 and 21, came to me and said, ‘Mom, I’m pregnant, and I’m not gonna to have that baby,’ I would say, ‘Here’s the money. Please go see a doctor.’ And what I say to everyone else is, if I would do that for myself or my daughters, how can I say to a poor woman, ‘You don’t have that right to make a choice.’ ”
Given the bias of the U.S. media, Ms Ferraro’s opinions on abortion are all-but ignored by everyone but the denominational and pro-life newspapers. Her personal financial affairs are, however, receiving more coverage.
On her nomination, she pledged to release for public scrutiny both her own and her husband’s tax returns. She later stated that her husband (John Zaccaro) had refused to release his tax information, “You people married to Italian men know what that’s like,” she explained. (Mr. Zaccaro had decided his tax returns were his own business: the fact that his wife, running for public office, had pledged to reveal them was irrelevant to him.) This excuse did not help matters much as Italian community-leaders protested the implied ethnic slur, and other wondered why Ferraro, a strong feminist, had to use her husband in this way.
In the end, Ferraro published both her own and her husband’s personal tax returns for the past six years. As a couple, their net worth stands at about $4 million, $760,000 for Ferraro and just over $3 million for Zaccaro. Their property interests include a home in suburban New York, in a neighbourhood of $400,000 properties; a $200,000 condominium in St Croix; and a vacation house worth $195,000 on Fire Island.
The publication of the tax returns revealed a sum of $53,549 owing on back taxes for 1978, this amount has been paid. Ms Ferraro had also accepted a loan of more than $130,000 from her husband and children during her first campaign for the House of Representatives in 1978. This was an illegal contribution, as federal election rules allow a candidate to receive no more than $1,000 from an individual. The FEC, the regulatory body on campaign financing, fined her $750 in 1979 for this violation. The amount was minimal as the FEC accepted Zaccaro’s evidence that they had been misled as to the rules by a lawyer (the lawyer has subsequently denied that he gave such advice).
Another irregularity not yet explained fully by Ms Ferraro is her annual non-compliance with financial-disclosure rules of the Ethics in Government Act. Under the Act, she was required to disclose her husband’s financial holding – unless she could certify that she had no knowledge of, and received no benefit form, her husband’s holdings. Since 1978, when she was first elected to the House, she has stated “no knowledge” and “received no benefit from” and has received an exemption from the reporting requirements.
Ms Ferraro is the secretary-treasurer of, a director of, and a shareholder in her husband’s large real-estate company, P. Zaccaro and Co. If she has no knowledge of the business of the company, then she is in apparent violation of a New York State law covering corporate officers.
While the affairs of P. Zaccaro and C. seem to be immensely lucrative, they leave much to be desired ethically. A reporter from the Los Angeles Times went to New York to investigate the 20 properties and 350 rental units managed by the company. The New York housing department lists 106 code violations for the units. One tenant told the reporter that in her apartment building in the winter the steam heat is shut off at 10.30 p.m. and put on at 6 a.m.: she takes her baby to bed with her to keep him warm.
A building co-owned and managed by Zaccaro leases a complete floor to Star Distributors, a pornography distribution centre linked to organized crime. Another property in Chinatown houses a large gambling den, again linked to organized crime.
Given the Republicans’ high standing in the polls, Ferraro’s and Mondale’s pro-abortion view are not likely to matter much. Her financial mess doesn’t help the Democrats either. As James J. Kilpatrick commented in The Washington Post in August.
“The gentlewoman from Queens is in deep trouble. Let me be as blunt as she often professes herself to be” if a male candidate for vice president on a Democratic or Republican ticket had played as fast and loose with the Ethics Act as Ferrraro has played, the media would be tearing him to pieces. No matter what material Ferraro now discloses to the Federal Elections Commission, the record of her filings with the House of Representatives will not go away.”