Conservative activist Carl Laurence Olson, 71, passed away quietly in the San Fernando Valley on August 23 of multiple myeloma, and his smiling face and unabashed zeal for the conservative cause will be missed. I first met Carl when we were both active in conservative and Republican volunteer organizations in California in the 1970s. Carl had an outstanding background he did not brag much about. He was proud to have been a Lt. Commander in the Navy, and would talk about that, and he served in Vietnam, and worked at NBC in Burbank for eight years. But he also graduated from Pomona College and held an MS in Journalism and an MBA from the Ivy League’s Columbia University in New York City. Those are pretty big accomplishments, of which he was rather modest.
After serving in the Reagan Administration at the Department of Health and Human Services, Carl came back to California and became active in several nonprofit advocacy organizations he founded or co-founded, including State Department Watch, and the Fund for Stockholders’ Rights. He sued the California Automobile Association in a long, drawn out litigation for essentially rigging their board of director’s elections, won court ordered reforms of the Auto Club’s election procedures, and was awarded over $1 million in attorney’s fees.
Carl was almost always supportive of my own activities and would often email me commenting positively on a post I had written here for FlashReport or on my own California Political Review, or when he saw me on Fox Business News’ Varney & Company. He could always be counted on to attend an important gathering of conservatives.
And he was always a strident conservative. A big supporter of L.A. Supervisor Mike Antonvich, I recall a Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C., probably around 1985 during the Reagan Administration, when I had the honor of introducing Commerce Secretary Malcolm Baldrige’s speech and sat next to him at the podium. I worked for Baldrige at this time. After Mac’s speech, people lined up at the microphone to ask questions. I got up to moderate the questions and the first person at the microphone was a smiling Carl Olson. So I recognized Carl to ask his question, and I cheerfully told Baldrige and the crowd in the audience that Carl “was a friend of mine from California.” Carl then proceeded to tear into Baldrige for being a lousy, liberal Commerce secretary. Baldrige was thrown off-balance by the comments and I was a little stunned myself. When Carl was finished, the next question came from Mike Antonovich, who was in line right behind Carl. I thought it was a pretty big deal that an L.A. County Supervisor would attend CPAC and be on the floor to ask the Commerce Secretary a question, so I gave Mike a big introduction, even though he was just asking a question from the floor. Then Antonovich proceeded to also rip Baldrige to shreds. Question time closed down very shortly thereafter and Baldrige skipped the dinner function that night, with me wondering whether I would have a job the next day. But I kept my job, and Carl, who had surely set-up the tirades, got his point made. I’m not sure if it changed any policies, but Carl made his opinions known whether you liked it or not!
Carl was a good man and will be missed. According to his obituary published in the Los Angeles Times on August 30, a service is planned for December 27th.