Sen. Hillary Clinton greets Peter Paul at Hollywood gala (Courtesy Hillcap.org)
A business mogul who says he was Hillary Clinton’s biggest donor in her 2000 Senate campaign is preparing to release a newly recovered videotape his lawyer calls “smoking-gun evidence” of the New York Democrat’s commission of a series of felonies, each punishable by up to five years in prison.
Peter Franklin Paul, in a civil fraud suit filed against Bill and Hillary Clinton, claims the former president destroyed his entertainment company to get out of a $17 million deal in which Clinton promised to promote the firm in exchange for stock, cash options and massive contributions to his wife’s 2000 campaign. Paul contends he was directed by the Clintons and Democratic Party leaders to foot the bill for a lavish Hollywood gala and fund-raiser prior to the 2000 election that eventually cost him nearly $2 million.
Sen. Clinton has claimed through her spokesman Howard Wolfson that Paul gave no money to her campaign, and her supporters have denied she had any anything to do with coordinating the August 2000 event or soliciting contributions directly from donors. Doing so would make Paul’s substantial contributions a direct donation to her Senate campaign rather than her joint fundraising committee, violating federal statutes that limit “hard money” contributions to a candidate to $2,000 per person. Furthermore, knowingly accepting or soliciting $25,000 or more in a calendar year is a felony carrying a prison sentence of up to five years.
Clinton’s campaign has counted the more than $800,000 of in-kind contributions it reported in a 2006 amended FEC report for the Hollywood Gala as indirect, or “soft money,” given to the New York Senate 2000 Committee, a state account that was run jointly by Clinton, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the New York State Democratic Party.
President Bill Clinton celebrating business deal with Peter Paul and wife Andrea (Courtesy Hillcap.org)
But the videotape, with clear audio of Sen. Clinton, documents her direct knowledge and involvement with Paul in producing the Hollywood fund-raiser and indicates she participated in solicitation of entertainers, whose in-kind contributions of their services would also constitute illegal contributions exceeding $25,000.
Paul has indicated plans to release the tape within 30 days as the focal point of the first-ever documentary on Sen. Clinton, featuring private videotape showing what he describes as illegal conduct by the senator. When the July 2000 tape is made public, concerned parties say they will demand an investigation of why it was withheld by federal attorneys.
The tape was one of 90 Paul was ordered to turn over to the U.S. attorney’s office for the Eastern District of New York in 2001 as part of the investigation in a related securities case against him. But the videotape of the phone call in 2000 has never been used as evidence, despite its relevance to the key question of Sen. Clinton’s involvement in the Hollywood fund-raiser.
WND was permitted to reveal a portion of the tape in which Sen. Clinton is heard thanking Paul and his colleagues for their efforts in putting together the event: “I wanted to call and personally thank all of you. I’m glad you were all together so that I could tell you how much this means to me; and it’s going to mean a lot to the president too.”
In the tape, the senator also describes the role of a longtime aide as assisting in day-to-day involvement in preparation for the event as her liaison with Paul and his producers.
The aide, Sen. Clinton says, “talks all the time” with Paul, “so she’ll be the person to convey whatever I need.”
The aide’s hands-on role is significant, because the law also implicates a candidate if any of his or her agents are involved in coordinating expenditures with a donor.
Prior to Paul’s recovery of the tape in April, his attorney Colette Wilson of the U.S. Justice Foundation filed a brief in the civil lawsuit alleging Clinton’s violation of a federal code that carries a possible five-year prison sentence.
Wilson argues in the brief filed with the California Court of Appeal that Sen. Clinton’s actions violated not only the $2,000 limit but Title 2 section 437 of the U.S. federal code, which states: “Any person who knowingly and willfully commits a violation of any provision of this act which involves the making, receiving, or reporting of any contribution, donation, or expenditure aggregating $25,000 or more during a calendar year shall be fined under Title 18, or imprisoned for not more than 5 years, or both.”
The Clintons’ longtime attorney, David Kendall, has declined comment on the case, saying only to WND regarding the felony assertion, “Any such allegation is totally false and totally unsupported.”
Paul Anka performs at Hollywood tribute to President Clinton (Courtesy Hillcap.org)
Wilson, armed with the new video evidence, will introduce it in Paul’s case against the Clintons, as well as in a series of complaints to various government bodies
Paul is appealing an April 7, 2006, decision by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Aurelio Munoz granting Sen. Clinton her motion to be dismissed from the case based on the state’s anti-SLAPP law, which protects politicians from frivolous lawsuits during their election campaigns.
Paul’s attorneys have argued Sen. Clinton violated the federal code and, therefore, according to the law, would not be covered by the anti-SLAPP statute.
In his April 2006 ruling, Munoz scheduled a trial to begin March 27 this year, but it was delayed when in September he ruled the discovery process – which likely would require the former president and his wife to testify under oath – could not proceed until the anti-SLAPP appeal is resolved.
‘Listening to a felony’
Wilson told WND yesterday the case against Sen. Clinton is that she “perpetuated the fraud,” collaborating with her husband to make Paul believe the former president was serious about working with Paul’s Internet entertainment company, Stan Lee Media, as a rainmaker after leaving the White House.
The attorney said the new videotape evidence is damning.
“I don’t know how you escape the conclusion that you are listening to a felony,” Wilson said.
Clinton, she said, “seemed to convince the FEC that she had no involvement, and this shows that was a big lie. She was directly involved in the planning and coordination of this event.”
In May 2005, Sen. Clinton’s former top fund-raising aide, David Rosen, was acquitted for filing false campaign reports regarding the event that later were charged by the FEC to treasurer Andrew Grossman, who accepted responsibility in a conciliation agreement. Paul points out the Rosen trial established his contention that he personally gave more than $1.2 million to Sen. Clinton’s campaign, and his contributions intentionally were hidden from the public and the FEC.
In January 2006, responding to Paul’s complaint, the FEC issued a $35,000 fine to New York Senate 2000 for failing to accurately report $721,895 in contributions from Paul.
In the taped phone conversation, Wilson points out, Clinton shows enthusiasm for her friendship with Paul and business partner Stan Lee, the Marvel Comics creator of Spider-Man, and says “how wonderful” Paul is for all of his efforts on her behalf.
“But when it came time for her to be publicly affiliated with him, she wouldn’t even own up to him contributing to her campaign,” Wilson said.
Sen. Clinton suddenly made a public break with Paul just days after the gala when the Washington Post splashed reports of Paul’s 1970s criminal convictions in a story that accused the senator of being soft on crime. While the senator publicly distanced herself, Paul says she remained in close contact to convince him that no matter what she said publicly, their understanding was still in place and he should continue to give money to her campaign secretly.
Paul contends the Clintons were fully aware of his past legal problems, pointing out he was vetted more than eight times by the Secret Service. He currently awaits sentencing after pleading guilty to a 10(b)5 violation of the Securities and Exchange Commission for not publicly disclosing his control of Merrill Lynch margin accounts that held Stan Lee Media stocks and for certain transactions in mid-November 2000 to keep the stock from losing value.
The collapse of his company, he says, was a direct result of President Clinton sabotaging on the deal.
Paul argues federal Judge Gary Feess ruled in his dismissal of a civil lawsuit brought by Stan Lee Media against him and Merrill Lynch in July 2003 that the “collapse of the margin scheme did not cause SLM’s stock to decline in value” and therefore was not responsible for the demise of the company. Paul says the judge’s ruling supports his case, by determining it was the financial condition of the company that caused the collapse. The purpose of the margin scheme, the judge determined, was to benefit Stan Lee Media.