Roger Stone and Me

Gerrie Schipske

It was 1977. I was 27 years old when I met Roger Stone. For several years, I had served as the press secretary and legislative assistant to a Southern California Republican Congresswoman. In that capacity I was able to meet and interact with many elected officials and political wannabes who came to call on my boss.

One day, the bouncy, kinetic Mike Curb came to ask for the Congresswoman’s endorsement for his quest to become Lieutenant Governor of California. Curb was known as a music producer who promoted the Osmonds and who was staunchly opposed to drugs. He had been encouraged by Ronald Reagan to run against Democrat Mervyn Dymally as a reward for his strong support of the Republican Party. Curb it seems could throw one hell of a party for the party. When he left, my boss asked what I thought, noting that “he seems a little scattered.”

As I sat in that meeting, I got the bug that many congressional staff members get: We delude ourselves into thinking that because the person we work for is successful in Congress, that we, the staff member who helped make them successful, would also be a success in Congress. So, I decided to run for Congress back in my home state, California.

I was told that I needed to “make the rounds” before any announcements. I met with the House Minority Leader, John Rhodes, who gave me a nod and ordered photographs of our meeting. I then met with the California Republican Congressional delegation that included at the time, a nail biting, slightly off, Robert K. Dornan. While all the other members of the delegation were pleasant and supportive about a young woman running for Congress in the late 1970s, Dornan snarled at me while he bit his fingernails, saying, “you can’t win without Richard Viguerie and my say so.” Viguerie had done direct mail for Dornan. No one really liked Dornan in the delegation, so I didn’t pursue asking him for help.

I called my friend, J. Brian Smith, and asked what to do next. Smith was a baby-faced lobbyist who at the ripe old age of 23 had left his job as Rhodes’ press secretary and went out on his own, setting up Smith and Harroff, a successful political consulting firm.

Smith encouraged me to talk with his friends, Terry Dolan and Charlie Black, who had just formed the National Conservative Political Action Committee along with another young man, Roger Stone. Stone had just been elected national president of the Young Republicans with the help of his friend, Paul Manafort. And while there was a noticeable absence of females in GOP party politics, there was a sense that more younger candidates could win.

So, I met with Dolan, Black and Stone at the NCPAC office in Alexandria, Virginia. As a very closeted lesbian, my “gaydar” screamed that the three of them might be gay. It turned out that only Dolan was. Sadly, he was known to frequent D.C. gay bars while publicly denouncing “homosexuals.” He died in 1986 at age 36 from complications due to AIDs.

I recall that Dolan and Black were very friendly and suggested that I attend the NCPAC campaign school, which I did.

Stone wasn’t so friendly. I remember that Dolan and Black remained seated, but Stone paced around the room, waiting to pounce. We didn’t like each other much. He was a staunch supporter of Ronald Reagan who had just lost the Republican nomination to Gerald Ford, and Stone knew that my boss was a supporter of Ford. Stone didn’t think I was conservative enough. I also sensed that he didn’t like women or think that they could be viable candidates.

Dolan, Black, Stone and I discussed that I was returning to Buena Park, Calif. where I was raised. Before I could display my knowledge of the 38th Congressional District and the current Democrat Congressman who represented the area, Stone stepped in and announced: “you should file for the primary and then if no other Republican runs, we will use you to bloody up Jerry Patterson.” Someone in the group then offered that I should go back home and get “a blue-collar job” at a local plant, like Nabisco, so it “didn’t look like I was sent from Washington.” They didn’t seem to care that I had worked on legislation for the past several years or had just earned a masters in legislative affairs.

I was looking for candidate support not a bit part in a dirty trick.

I left the meeting and a couple of weeks later, left Washington and returned to Orange County, Calif. I actually took a job as the City of Long Beach’s first Public Information Officer and forgot about running for Congress for many years.

Four unknown Republicans faced off in the primary in the 38th. Don Goedeke (pronounced Get A Key) won the primary. Although he claimed Southern California as his “home,” he was from Washington, D.C., where he worked as a low-level staffer at NASA.

Even though the Republicans would go to sweep the House elections in 1978, they could not find a viable candidate to defeat the incumbent Democrat. In that race the Republican lost 58-41. Congressman Patterson remained in office until 1985.

I left the Republican Party for a variety of reasons. Stone went on to form a consulting firm with Paul Manafort and to engage in number of political operations aimed at “bloodying up” opponents.

It took me until 2000 to run for Congress. As a Democrat, I won a contentious primary. President Clinton came to California to campaign for Al Gore and me at a Beverly Hills fundraiser. Both Al and I lost by a few votes.

Days after the 2000 election, as a recount was underway in Florida, the press showed a group of “protesters” storming the canvassing board who were in the process of re-counting ballots that were rejected by computer. The “protest” was orchestrated by Roger Stone, the very same man who 18 years later is being investigated by Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller.

So glad I didn’t listen to him.


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