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Saturday, 12 August, 2000, 16:07 GMT 17:07 UK
Democrat Playboy venue dropped
Playboy models
Democrats say the Playboy image is at odds with the party's values
By David Willis in California

An American congresswoman who was planning to hold a campaign fundraising event at the Playboy mansion in Los Angeles has backed down after heavy criticism.

Democrat Loretta Sanchez was told she would lose her speaking role at next week's Democrat national convention and might have her credentials revoked.

Loretta Sanchez
Under fire: Loretta Sanchez
Miss Sanchez, who was seen as one of the party's rising stars, was organising a fundraising event for Hispanic Unity USA - a group which encourages Latinos to vote.

Loretta Sanchez said she decided to hold the event at the mansion named after the men's magazine and famous for its scantily-clad hostesses, because in order to make it a success she needed a prime and attractive location.

But senior members of the Democratic Party took exception, saying that the Playboy image was at odds with the party's values and that holding the event there would send the wrong message to voters.

They feared it could undermine the family values message the party has attempted to promote and make an easy target for their opponents, the Republican Party.

Al Gore
Al Gore registered his objections
Presidential candidate Al Gore registered his own objections and Ms Sanchez came under intense pressure to find a more family-oriented venue, even though Playboy founder Hugh Hefner not only supports the party, but has donated money to it and to Mr Gore's campaign.

He even had his picture taken with Bill Clinton.

In the light of the Monica Lewinsky affair, morality is a big issue in the current election campaign. At their recent convention senior Republicans accused the Democrats of lacking moral character.

Playboy executives have criticised the move. A spokesman said their magazine is as American as apple pie.

All 600 tickets for the party had been sold and it will now be held at the Universal movie studios in Hollywood.

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