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Sanchez Speaks!...And So Does Hef

us rep. loretta sanchez
AP
The morning after the speech she didn't give, Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez won't rule out planning a future fund-raiser at the Playboy Mansion.

On top of that, Hugh Hefner will vote for Al Gore anyway.

"I believe that Hispanic Unity can and should at some point hold a fund-raiser at the Playboy Mansion or almost any other place," Sanchez told CBS News' The Early Show on Tuesday.

Sanchez withdrew her speaking role at the Democratic National Convention - scheduled for last night - after a flap with party leaders over just such an event. Last week, party leaders took away her convention time for organizing a Playboy Mansion fund-raiser for Hispanic Unity USA, a nonpartisan political action campaign Sanchez set up to promote Latino officials and get Latinos elected. The California Democrat moved the event and got her convention slot back - only to give it up.

"The reason was to get away from all the commotion and really let Americans hear what Democrats are going to do for the future. Some had suggested that I changed it (the fund-raiser site) because I wanted to get my speaking role back - and that's just not the case," Sanchez told CBS News' The Early Show on Tuesday.

The fund-raiser will now take place at B.B. King's Blues Club in Universal City.

Asked how she felt about how Democratic Party leaders handled her, she replied, "Let's say I've been treated better before."

Later that morning, Playboy founder Hugh Hefner had more to say about Sanchez's treatment.

"I have always thought and would like to believe that the 'D' in Democratic Party stands for diversity. I think in this particular case, the Democratic Party has been behaving like right-wing Republicans and in a very brutish way related to her. The tactics and the amount of pressure that were put on her are unconscionable," he told The Early Show.

Even so, Hefner - who has made campaign contributions to Democrats over the years - said he'll vote for Gore in November.

"Yes, I will, because it's the lesser of two evils," the publisher told The Early Show.

Sanchez, 40, became one of the nation's most prominent Latino officials in 1996 when she unseated Republican Robert Dornan. Party leaders made her co-chair of the DNC and she headed Al Gore's congressional political action committee in 1998. But Gore was among the party officials worried that the fund-raiser at the Playboy Mansion would send the wrong message as the Democrats try to leave the Clinton years of sex-and-money scandals behind.

Democratic leaders feared that the event, though not sanctioned by the party, could undermine attempts to portray Gore and running mate Joseph Lieberman as family-oriented, and could give Republicans an easy target in the fall campaigns.

Gore said he supported the party's decision to distance itself from the event and from Sanchez, a staunch supporter despite hiown acceptance of campaign money from Playboy, including a $1,000 donation Hugh Hefner made last year.

New Mexico delegate Daniel Ivey-Soto said he is angry with the Gore campaign for interfering with Sanchez's event, though he will still back Gore for president.

"I have a problem with the Gore campaign being Thought Police in terms of dictating where non-party events will take place," said Ivey-Soto of Albuquerque, who is Latino.

On Monday, Sanchez said she doubted her decision not to appear would affect her politically.

"How many speakers do you remember from the Republican convention?" she asked.