The opening salvos have been launched in the campaign for next month’s board elections of the Writers Guild of America West, with former guild president Brad Radnitz bearing the brunt of the initial attack.
In a letter due for mailing later this week to members as part of the ballot package, board member Greg Strangis and guild member Timothy Wurtz call attention, “with great reluctance,” to what they say were excessive charges on Radnitz’s WGAW expense account during his two-year term, which ended in September 1997.
Radnitz is running for a board seat along with three other former WGAW presidents — John Furia Jr., Frank Pierson and David Rintels. Eight of the board’s 19 seats are up for election, which ends with a Sept. 17 deadline for ballots.
“During his term as president, Brad’s guild expenses were at a level significantly above those of any other recent president of the WGAW,” Strangis and Wurtz wrote. They cite figures showing that the guild’s disbursements to Radnitz totaled $44,780 during his term, which covered three fiscal years, compared with, for instance, $2,416 for George Kirgo for the year 1992.
However, the figures do not illustrate Kirgo’s three previous years as president. Neither do they show all the reimbursements for Pierson, giving only the figure for 1995: $4,420.
“It’s a libelous paste-up of unsubstantiated charges, odious comparisons, half-truths and false statistics,” Radnitz wrote in a letter responding to the accusations. Daily Variety obtained the exchange of letters Monday.
The two accusers acknowledge that Radnitz’s expenses were higher in part because he lived in Rancho Mirage and had to travel to board meetings in Los Angeles, occasionally requiring a hotel room. But they cite “one troubling aspect” of Radnitz’s expenses for September 1995-February ’96 “is that they do not include a single receipt.”
“For reasons that are unclear, Brad’s monthly out-of-pocket expenses took a significant jump upward in the spring of 1996. From an average of $393 a month during his first five months in office, his guild reimbursed expenses increased to $2,253 a month for the last 19 months of his two-year term.”
In addition to the $44,780 in reimbursed expenses, Radnitz billed $67,672 in other expenses directly to the guild, the two writers assert.
Radnitz, in a four-page letter to the board and in the five-page letter to members, vehemently denied any impropriety and provided an item-by-item rebuttal of the charges.
He said any accounting comparing his paid expenses with such former presidents as Kirgo and Del Reisman is “unfair and irrelevant.”
“It’s a different time, a different guild, a much bigger job,” Radnitz wrote in his letter to members. “Strangis and Wurtz seek to build a whole, confusing case against me using my claimed expenses for my first fiscal year in office, calling them reasonable. They fail to take into account I paid most of my presidential expenses during that time out of my own pocket, and only began applying for full reimbursements in January 1996.”
Radnitz, in his letter to the board, said Wurtz and Strangis proceded to “make a series of unsubstantiated charges and compile a partial and confusing melange of numbers that bear full study and full explanations from all parties and in the proper context.”
“I only ask,” Radnitz wrote, “that you accord me the right to appear before any committee of the board’s choice and ultimately the membership to testify to and help review my expenses and others that are related with due process. I do not fear full disclosure. I welcome it.”