March 10, 2001
Its Not a Conspiracy; Its All in the Family
by Joseph P. Tartaro
People with connections, big party donors linked to 176 final-hour Clinton pardons and commutations.
Hillarys brother receives nearly $400,000 for lobbying for a pardon and a prison commutation that the former president granted on his last day in office; returns pardon fee.
Sen. Clinton denies role in pardons; says theres no link to November campaign.
HUD reports praising Cuomo receive criticism.
Those are just some of the recent headlines for stories involving the late Clinton Administration, friends, relatives and big-money donors to the Democratic Party, and particularly the suspicious stench of cronyism in Bill Clintons use of the presidential power to pardon criminals or commute their sentences.
For at least the past eight or nine years, controversy has dogged the Clinton camp. Whenever the Clintons got themselves into public trouble, they and their friends usually relied on the vast right-wing conspiracy defense.
But that defense wont wash this time, because a lot of the people attacking them and questioning the propriety of what the extended Clinton family has been doing are part of what many gunowners consider a vast left-wing conspiracy. Indeed, even many of the Clintons most ardent defenders in the media and the Democratic Party are beginning to question, if not berate, the Clintons.
Gun Issue Link
What is especially fascinating about all this is that many linkages help explain many of the troubles which have dogged law-abiding gunowners and the firearms industry during the Clinton reign.
Before I proceed further with this column, allow me to remind everyone that the Clinton-Gore Administration was the most antagonistic to firearms rights of any presidency in history. Not that of Lyndon Johnson, nor Richard Nixon nor Jimmy Carter could even come close. At no other time in history have the leaders of national anti-gun organizations been allowed to strut center stage at National Democratic Conventions as they were for Clinton-Gore in 1992, 1996 and 2000.
With that in mind, let us examine a few of the stories that have been published recently about the Clinton gang.
Forgetting for a moment the pardon of such people as Marc Rich, take a look at some of the others who were pardoned. Some Clinton defenders may point out that there were a lot more Whitewater criminals that could have been pardoned, but werent. Some might even cite the fact that Clinton didnt use his pardon power much in his first seven years so the large number pardoned about the time he was making his own deal with the special prosecutor isnt significant.
When you look at the pardonees other than Rich, you find a lot of anti-gun connections.
Clinton pardoned the once-powerful, former chair of the House Ways & Means Committee, Dan Rostenkowski, long an advocate in Congress for more limits on Americans right to keep and bear arms.
Another former anti-gun Congressman, Mel Reynolds, was also pardoned, reportedly at the urging of the anti-gun Rev. Jesse Jackson.
Gun Lawsuit Connection
But in addition to such cronyism, there are family links.
Hugh Rodham, who sought and gained at least two pardons for client-friends from his brother-in-law, is being defended to reporters by attorney John Coale. For those who dont remember, Coale is one of the leaders of the cabal of lawyers who are handling the city and county suits against the firearms industry. Coale, by the way, is married to CNN legal analyst Greta van Susteren, who is in a position to spin the legal issues surrounding the anti-gun suits for the American public.
Hugh Rodham is also an attorney and worked on the same tobacco suits as Coale, and also joined the team of lawyers determined to bleed the gun industry to death.
A young brother of Rodmans is married to the daughter of one of Californias two anti-gun women US senators, Barbara Boxer.
There are plenty of family links showing, and many of the interlinked families have a mutual commitment to the anti-gun cause that is even thicker than blood.
Lost in the muddle of Bill Clintons latest peccadilloesand his and Hillarys denialsis a story about one of his more prominent and ambitious Clinton cabinet members: Andrew Cuomo, former secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). It was Cuomo the younger who engineered the bizarre agreement with Smith & Wesson, then threatened to use HUD money to finance up to 3,000 individual public housing authority lawsuits against the firearms industry if other firms didnt sign the S&W agreement.
Cuomo, who is married to a daughter of the late Sen. Robert Kennedy, recently announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for governor of New York in the 2002 race. He made the announcement at a New York City party and press conferenceheld at the home of Marc Richs ex-wife, songwriter and Clinton friend Denise Rich. That event was attended by other anti-gunners, significantly Cuomos relative by marriage, anti-gun Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI).
It has now been revealed that in the weeks before the Clinton Administration left office, HUD spent more than $200,000 on reports on the agencys work under Cuomos stewardship. Ever since, according to Associated Press, critics have been calling the effort little more than self-promotion aimed at boosting Cuomos candidacy for New York governor.
Cuomo authorized 5,000 copies of HUD International, which documents the agencys work in Central America and the Caribbean, China, Mexico, South Africa and Israel. The 62-page report includes 15 photos of Cuomo and cost $53,500.
The report was printed in the first two weeks of January. Cuomos tenure ended along with Clintons on Jan. 20.
Exposing Injustice, which cost $162,509 for 10,000 copies, chronicled HUD initiatives designed to combat racial and economic inequality and included at least 11 photographs of Cuomo.
In all, there were three reports produced and few copies of any of them were actually distributed. Most are now sitting in storage in Washington, where the Bush Administration sent them after taking power.
There were 140 pardons and 36 commutations Clinton granted just hours before Bush took office and they have generated criticism from Republicans and Democrats alike and prompted congressional and criminal investigations.
Until now, however, critics have mainly focused on the clemency Clinton granted to fugitive financier Marc Rich, who was indicted in 1983 on charges of tax evasion and making illegal oil deals with Iran.
Congressional committees have begun investigations, and in early February, a Clinton-appointed US attorney in New York, Mary Jo White, opened a criminal investigation into the Rich pardon to determine if political donations by Richs former wife contributed to the pardon.
Rep. Dan Burton (R-IN), a longtime critic of Clinton and chairman of the House committee investigating the pardons, called news of the payments deeply troubling and pledged to investigate them. This makes it look like there is one system of justice for those with money and influence, and one system of justice for everyone else, Burton said.
Some commentators have suggested that Burton, a long-time foe of the Clintons, is merely pursuing a political vendetta. Bush has show little interest in pursuing the pardon scandal, suggesting that it is time to move on to other matters.
He has a point. While the Clinton gangs activities dominate the headlines, the real business of Washington has been largely at a standstill.
However, it seems worthwhile to pause a moment and note the what can happen when the wrong peoplemany of them from families connected by marriage and having a common disregard for the basic rights of the peoplehave such easy access to any Administration.
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