Posted on August 5, 2004

Radio Hosts To ‘Sacrifice’ GOP Waffler

Valerie Richardson, Washington Times, Aug. 5

The top-rated Los Angeles radio talk-show team is asking its listeners to punish the Republican Party for waffling on illegal immigration by sacrificing a California congressman — politically speaking.

John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou, hosts of “The John & Ken Show” on KFI-AM, have enlisted their audience to identify and target for defeat one local Republican congressman they deem soft on issues such as border security and benefits for undocumented aliens.

The duo, who call their plan a “political human sacrifice,” say it is meant as a wake-up call to Republican leaders who ignore their constituents’ pleas for stronger border enforcement for fear of offending Hispanic voters or the agriculture industry.

“We’re overwhelmed by illegal immigration in Southern California. The Republican Party just doesn’t understand the level of anger out here,” Mr. Kobylt said. “They just say [to conservatives], ‘Who else are you going to vote for?’”

Their audience has narrowed the field to five finalists: California Republican Reps. Mary Bono, Christopher Cox, David Dreier, Darrell Issa and Dana Rohrabacher. Four of the five already have appeared on the afternoon radio program to defend their records; Mr. Dreier is negotiating an appearance.

The “winner,” as chosen by the listeners, will be announced the day after Labor Day. The hosts then will use the airwaves to pursue the representative’s political downfall in November’s election — and have a little fun.

“We’ve made it like a reality show — we’ve got drums beating in the background, stuff like that,” Mr. Kobylt said.

It certainly won’t be any fun for the hapless congressman. “John & Ken” are experienced political rabble-rousers: Two years ago, they galvanized voters into ousting an Orange County judge charged with child molestation.

Last year, they helped whip up support for the recall of California Gov. Gray Davis, the subsequent election of Arnold Schwarzenegger, and the repeal of a law allowing illegal immigrants to receive state driver’s licenses.

The show already has accomplished one of its goals: California Republicans are paying attention. Mr. Issa said he was shocked that the hosts would target a Republican when Democrats are far more illegal alien-friendly.

“It’s the best example of cannibalistic activity,” said Mr. Issa. “All 20 Republican members of the California delegation have views much closer to those of John and Ken than all 33 members of the Democratic delegation, but they’re saying, ‘You’re not pure enough.’ “

According to the group Americans for Better Immigration (ABI), the five have differing records on curbing illegal immigration. Across their careers, their grades are: Mrs. Bono, D; Mr. Cox, A; Mr. Dreier, C+; Mr. Issa, C; and Mr. Rohrabacher, A+.

The grades of two of the lawmakers have slipped since 2001. When only those votes and actions are considered, ABI gave Mr. Cox a B- and Mr. Dreier an F. The other three legislators had the same grades.

The idea for the “sacrifice” was triggered by a flap over a series of Border Patrol sweeps in Southern California that resulted in the capture of more than 450 undocumented aliens. The effort, which began in June, was halted after Rep. Joe Baca, California Democrat, and other lawmakers complained about the sweeps to Homeland Security Undersecretary Asa Hutchinson.

“Baca got in Hutchinson’s face and it was called off,” said Mr. Kobylt. “So what we want to know is: Who’s the Republican getting in Hutchinson’s face? You didn’t hear anything from the Republicans.”

The Republicans are speaking now, prompted by the show’s huge listener base. KFI-AM draws an audience of 1.14 million listeners a week, making it the most popular station in the nation, according to figures from Arbitron provided by program director Robin Bertolucci.

Mr. Rohrabacher said he was shocked to find his name on the short list for political sacrifice after devoting much of his congressional career to tightening border security.

“This is probably the issue that I’ve spent more time and energy on than any other issue, and I’ve been doing it since Day One,” Mr. Rohrabacher said.

He said the hosts should have spent more time delving into the records of their “contestants” and educating their listeners.