Rep. Bobbi Fiedler (R-Calif.) and Paul Clarke, her fiance and top aide, pleaded not guilty today to campaign-misconduct charges.
Fiedler and Clarke are accused of offering to pay off the $100,000 campaign debt of state Sen. Ed Davis, one of Fiedler's opponents in the crowded Republican U.S. Senate primary, in exchange for Davis' withdrawal from the race.
Fiedler answered with a firm, "Not guilty," when asked by Deputy District Attorney Steven Sowders how she pleaded.
Asked the same question, Clarke replied, "Absolutely not guilty."
Defense attorneys waived the right to a preliminary hearing and made no request to sever the cases.
The trial date was set for March 3.
Fiedler was not booked after this morning's arraignment. Her attorneys have argued that the law does not mandate it and that her political opponents could "misuse" the booking process -- for example, by distributing her mug shot.
The decision on the question of booking the congresswoman will be made Feb. 21, when Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Robert Altman is scheduled to hear pre-trial motions.
Chief Deputy District Attorney Gilbert I. Garcetti said Thursday he thinks that it will be very difficult to convict Fiedler. Fiedler and Clark were indicted last month.
This week, their attorneys released a transcript of the grand jury proceedings and tapes made by Davis' campaign manager, Martha Zilm, during the district attorney's investigation, which was initiated by a complaint from Zilm.