Art Moore entered the media world as a public relations assistant for the Seattle Mariners and a correspondent covering pro and college sports for Associated Press Radio. He reported for a daily newspaper and served as senior news writer for Christianity Today magazine before joining WND shortly after 9/11. He holds a master's degree in communications from Wheaton College Graduate School.More ↓Less ↑
Peter Paul says this photo shows him celebrating his business deal with President Bill Clinton and his wife Andrea (Courtesy Hillcap.org)
California’s Supreme Court has been asked to hear a claim Sen. Hillary Clinton wrongly invoked First Amendment protections to remove herself as a defendant from a multi-million-dollar lawsuit in which she and her husband are accused of defrauding the largest donor to her 2000 Senate campaign.
The California Supreme Court, in 2004, already upheld a lower-court decision to deny the Clintons’ motion to dismiss the case. Regardless of whether or not Sen. Clinton is a defendant, she will be required to testify under oath along with her husband and a host of Hollywood luminaries Paul says were witnesses to a broken deal. A trial originally was scheduled for March this year but was delayed due to the appeal of Sen. Clinton’s dismissal.
The lawsuit claims that the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination had knowledge of her husband’s intent to defraud Paul and that she committed felonies by soliciting illegal campaign funds from him.
Bill Clinton, according to the complaint, promised to promote Paul’s company, Stan Lee Media, in exchange for stock, cash options and massive contributions to his wife’s 2000 Senate campaign. Paul contends he was directed by the Clintons and Democratic Party leaders to produce, pay for and then join them in lying about footing the bill for a lavish Hollywood gala and fundraiser prior to the 2000 election that eventually cost him nearly $2 million. The Justice Department and FBI later confirmed $1.2 million in contributions by Paul.
The California Court of Appeal upheld Sen. Clinton’s removal as a defendant in the case based on the state’s anti-SLAPP law, which was designed to protect anyone, in the exercise of their First Amendment rights, from frivolous lawsuits. But Paul contends the Democratic senator is abusing the anti-SLAPP law as an alternate way to be removed from the case after the state Supreme Court determined it should proceed.
Paul argues the appeals court never addressed the issue of whether Sen. Clinton’s conduct was criminal. If her “protected” conduct was criminal, as Paul claims, she could not use the anti-SLAPP law to remove herself as a defendant.
The appeals court opinion by Presiding Justice Dennis M. Perluss, writing for concurring associate justices Fred Woods and Laurie D. Zelon, argued that even if Sen. Clinton committed an illegal act, it was not at the heart of Paul’s case.
The opinion said “whether Senator Clinton or Clinton for Senate improperly solicited campaign contributions is not a purely legal question that can be determined based on the uncontroverted evidence already in the record and, therefore, is not an issue we should (or can) decide for the first time on appeal.”
Paul’s attorney, Colette Wilson, argues in the new petition that the California Supreme Court should take the case to determine whether a defendant can invoke the anti-SLAPP statute if there is “uncontroverted evidence” of criminal conduct, regardless of whether legal pleadings assert the conduct is criminal.
The alleged crimes, according to Paul, center on Sen. Clinton’s participation in soliciting and coordinating his expenditures and soliciting illegal contributions of performers’ services for the Hollywood event, which would make his more than $1.2 million in contributions a direct donation to her Senate campaign – a violation of federal statutes that limit “hard money” contributions to a candidate to $2,000 per person. Knowingly accepting or soliciting $25,000 or more in a calendar year is a felony carrying a prison sentence of up to five years.
Wilson points out that in Sen. Clinton’s motion to invoke the anti-SLAPP law, her legal team admitted her campaign solicited contributions from Paul.
That is the “uncontroverted” fact, Wilson contends. It’s up the court, then, she argues, to determine whether or not the contributions were legal.
Wilson also is disputing lower-court rulings that prevented her from deposing Sen. Clinton in order to gather evidence that her husband intended to defraud Paul. The judges argued Wilson was seeking a “fishing expedition,” asserting she had no clue whether or not Sen. Clinton had such knowledge.
But Wilson notes Paul stated in his deposition that he discussed the business deal with Sen. Clinton at another fundraiser he hosted, prior to the Hollywood gala, during which he spent hours at her side. Clinton allowed Paul to videotape much of their interaction.
At the six-hour Hollywood gala, the Clintons sat next to Paul and his wife for the entire evening – indicative of their special relationship – and, according to Paul, discussed their future business dealings.
“Hillary Clinton is the only one who knows whether or not she had personal knowledge of the fraudulent intent of her husband,” Wilson told WND.
As evidence of Sen. Clinton’s active role in the production of the fundraiser, Paul submitted to the appeals court a videotape documenting a July 2000 phone call made by the then-first lady to him in his office. During the call, Clinton refers to a key White House aide as her agent to coordinate the planning with Paul on a daily basis. Clinton also tells of soliciting Cher to perform at the event.
In reply to Paul’s filing of the videotape, Sen. Clinton’s legal team contended the claim that it captures the New York Democrat and her campaign in the act of committing a felony is “pure fantasy” and “much ado about nothing.”
The Clinton brief said, “To the extent that it is authentic, the videotape shows that Senator Clinton is gracious to her supporters, that she has a sense of humor, and nothing more.”
Wilson maintains the reply failed to address the main point – that Sen. Clinton directed an agent to coordinate with Paul, directly solicited the funds and applied some control over them, in violation of section 441 of the Federal Election Commission code.
The code says, “Expenditures made by any person in cooperation, consultation or concert with, or at the request or suggestion of a candidate or their agents shall be considered to be a contribution to such candidate,” and, therefore, subject to limits.
Wilson argues that while joint campaign committees such as New York Senate 2000 have helped candidates get around the $2,000 limit on contributions directly to their campaigns, the FEC regulation considers any donation specifically requested or coordinated by a candidate to be the same as a direct contribution to the candidate, subject to mandatory limits.
Meanwhile, a non-profit whistleblower group, the Equal Justice in America Foundation, is sponsoring a one-hour documentary film on Paul’s case called “Hillary Uncensored,” which debuted Nov. 2 at Harvard University.
The trailer for the documentary became the No. 1-viewed piece on Google’s video site. The 13-minute piece was posted on a private site July 18 for editing and focus-group review, but it was leaked on a political blog Oct. 7 and immediately hit the top spot through viral e-mailing. Later it was copied to YouTube. Between the two sites, the video now has more than 3 million views.
The videotape of the July 2000 phone call from Clinton to Paul was added to the documentary during production after Paul’s lawyers were able to retrieve it from the U.S. attorney’s office for the Eastern District of New York.
The tape was one of 90 Paul was ordered to turn over to the attorney’s office in 2001 as part of the investigation in a related securities case against him. But the tape was not released until after all investigations were concluded into Sen. Clinton’s role with Paul. It has never been used as evidence, despite its relevance to the key question of Sen. Clinton’s involvement in the Hollywood fundraiser. A federal judge and the prosecutor in the 2005 trial of Sen. Clinton’s finance director, David Rosen, insisted the senator was not involved in any direct way in the matter.