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Roland Arnall, major state political donor and Ameriquest founder, dies

March 17, 2008 |  2:58 pm

Roland Arnall, a Holocaust survivor who became one of President Bush’s biggest benefactors and the administration’s ambassador to the Netherlands, has died of cancer.  He was 68.

Arnall was a co-founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, and owned home mortgage lender Ameriquest Capital Corp.

He and his wife, Dawn, had been major donors to California Democrats including Gov. Gray Davis and Jerry Brown when the California attorney general was governor.

In later years, according to campaign financial numbers reported by The Times' Dan Morain, the Arnalls became major donors to Republicans.  Since 2004, Roland and Dawn Arnall have given $5.5 million in federal campaign donations primarily to Republican candidates and organizations, and $1 million to Bush's 2005 inaugural.

The Los Angeles billionaire and his wife also were major California political donors, giving at least $11.5 million to state candidates and campaigns. They gave $1.4 million to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and his campaign committees, and $130,000 to Davis, plus another $100,000 to oppose Davis’ recall.

Late this afternoon Schwarzenegger issued a statement that said, in part, "Maria and I send our prayers to Ambassador Arnall’s family, and we pledge to do our part in making sure his important work promoting tolerance around the world continues on.”

Arnall resigned as ambassador to the Netherlands, effective March 7.

The company Arnall founded, Ameriquest, has regularly been among the largest political donors in the state.  Based in Orange, it has been the target of lawsuits filed by consumers in California and at least 20 other states alleging a pattern of fraud, falsification of documents, bait-and-switch sales tactics and other violations.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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