Evelyn Pringle March 2008
Theodore Olson was one of the masterminds behind the Arkansas Project, which operated between 1993 and 1997, with the single-minded goal of trying to dig up, or in the alternative manufacture, enough dirt to get rid of the twice elected President, Bill Clinton.
His lies to Congress about his role in this sordid affair nearly derailed his confirmation as Solicitor General in the current Bush Administration.
The Arkansas Project was funded by more than $2 million from Pittsburgh billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife and funneled through the American Spectator magazine. While testifying before Congress at his confirmation hearings, Mr Olson lied through his teeth about his role in this plot.
At May 17, 2001 hearing, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt), noted that his concern from the outset about Mr Olson serving as Solicitor General was whether Mr Olson's "sharp partisanship over the last several years might not be something that he could leave behind."
Through the course of the hearing and written questions, he stated, "Mr. Olson has not shown a willingness or ability to be sufficiently candid and forthcoming with the Senate so that I would have confidence in his abilities to carry out the responsibilities of the Solicitor General and be the voice of the United States before the United States Supreme Court. In addition, I am concerned about other matters in his background."
Specifically, Senator Leahy said, questions persisted about Mr Olson’s involvement with the American Spectator Magazine and the Arkansas Project.
He pointed out that Mr Olson had implied that his role was extremely limited as a member of the Board of Directors of the American Spectator Educational Foundation and that he was involved only after the fact, when the Board conducted a financial audit and terminated the Arkansas Project activities in 1998.
However, he noted that Mr Olson had subsequently modified his answers over time, and his recollection had changed, and he conceded additional knowledge and involvement. "His initial minimizing of his role," the Senator said, "appears not to be consistent with the whole story."
He recounted that in April, 2001, Mr Olson's testimony was that he was not involved, except as a Member of the Board but that over several weeks and several rounds of questions, Mr Olson had expanded his initial response to admit that he and his firm provided legal services in connection with the matter, that he had discussions in "social" settings with those working on ‘Arkansas Project’ matters, and that he himself authored articles for the magazine paid for out of Scaife’s special ‘Arkansas Project’ fund.
On April 5, 2001, in response to a question by Senator Leahy of whether he was "involved in the so-called ‘Arkansas Project’ at any time," Mr Olson responded by saying:
"As a member of the board of directors of the American Spectator, I became aware of that. It has been alleged that I was somehow involved in that so-called project. I was not involved in the project in its origin or its management."
According to Senator Leahy, after some additional correspondence, Mr Olson changed his answer stating: "My only involvement in what has been characterized as the ‘Arkansas Project’ was in connection with my service to the Foundation as a lawyer and member of its Board of Directors."
When first asked about a vicious article he coauthored that was published anonymously under the pseudonym "Solitary, Poor, Nasty, Brutish and Short" in the Spectator, Mr Olson did not acknowledge that the magazine had hired his firm to prepare such materials or to perform legal research on the theoretical criminal exposure of the President and First Lady based on press accounts of their conduct.
Mr Olson testified that the article contained "statements of a private citizen." However, he failed to explain why, as a private citizen, he chose to make his public attacks on the Clintons anonymously.
Senator Leahy later quoted Mr Olson's law partner, Doug Cox, as telling the Washington Post that he and Mr Olson worked on legal matters for the American Spectator, which included legal research that was incorporated into an article published in 1994, under a fictitious name and claimed that the President might be facing up to 178 years in prison and the First Lady 47 years in prison.
Senator Leahy noted that Mr Olson and Mr Cox “have now acknowledged-- that Mr. Olson co-authored a number of articles for the American Spectator for which he or his firm were paid with Scaife funds and that Mr. Olson provided legal advice in connection with other efforts funded with Scaife funds in connection with the ‘Arkansas Project’.”
In a May 14, 2001, letter to Senator Orin Hatch, Mr Olson wrote that he and his law firm participated in the researching and writing of, "informational material which the magazine chose to publish under the pseudonym ‘Solitary, Poor, Nasty, Brutish and Short'."
Mr Olson then incorporated a portion of the retainer letter between the American Spectator and his firm and indicated, "my firm was paid our normal billing rates."
Senator Leahy pointed out that Mr Olson had previously written to him on this point and stated: "I received payments for articles authored or co-authored by me. The fees ranged from $500 to $1,000 per article, as I recall."
The Senator then stated, “I find it hard to imagine that Mr. Olson’s normal billing rates and those charged by his firm would yield only $500 to $1,000 per article.”
He also objected to the fact that he was unable to get Mr Olson or the magazine to provide billing records to clear up the matter once and for all.
However, Senator Leahy quoted the May 10, 2001, article in the Washington Post that said over $14,000 had been paid to Mr Olson’s law firm and specifically attributed by the American Spectator Magazine to the Arkansas Project.
At the time of the hearing and his answer to all the question, Senator Leahy said, “Mr. Olson was well aware of what the ‘Arkansas Project’ run by the organization for which he acted as lawyer, author and contributor, Board Member and officers had involved.”
“He had been presented with an audit and played a pivotal role in reviewing the examination of its management, methods and results,” he pointed out.
David Brock, a former reporter for the American Spectator and the author of some of the most vicious Clinton articles published, came forward and told the Judiciary Committee staff that Mr Olson attended several meetings at the home of R Emmett Tyrrell Jr, the editor of magazine when ideas for editorials were discussed by the Arkansas Project.
Mr Brock reported that Mr Olson was also not truthful about his role in ghostwriting smear-Clinton articles in Spectator magazine. For instance, he said, Mr Olson encouraged the publication of a story with speculation about Vince Foster being murdered, even though Mr Olson himself believed Mr Foster had committed suicide, to keep the heat on the Clinton Administration until another scandal was shaken loose.
In response to questions about the Vince Foster article, Mr Olson did not deny Mr Brock’s account of the events, he simply wrote that he told Mr Brock that the article did not appear to be libelous or to raise any legal issues that would preclude its publication, and that he was not going to tell the editor-in-chief what should appear in the magazine.
In the May 21, 2002, New York Observer, Joe Conason reported that the financial records of the American Spectator Educational Foundation showed several payments in 1994 to Mr Olson's law firm, that were "listed explicitly as Arkansas Project "expenses."
Mr Conason says another attendee at the meetings that Mr Brock referred to was David Henderson, a Spectator foundation director who served as an overseer of the project. He also reports that Mr Brock's assertion was corroborated by a letter in which the Spectator's publisher named persons who regularly attended the meetings at his home, and the first name on the list, which included Mr Brock and Mr Henderson, was "Ted Olson."
In 1998, a series of articles in Salon magazine by Murray Waas provided an inside look at the shenanigans going on behind the scenes in the midst of Ken Starr’s Whitewater Investigation.
According to Mr Waas, Mr Olson was providing advice to the Arkansas Project, dating back to its inception in late 1993 or early 1994 and in fact, "one of the initial meetings to set up the Arkansas Project was held at Olson's downtown Washington, D.C., office at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher."
Yet, at an April 2001 hearing, Senator Leahy asked Mr Olson whether there had been any meetings of the Arkansas Project in his office and he responded: "No, there were none."
In follow-up written questions, Senator Leahy asked in particular about the time frame of 1993 and 1994, and Mr Olson answered that he was, "not aware of any meeting organizing, planning or implementing the ‘Arkansas Project’ in my law firm in 1993 or 1994."
Senator Leahy then followed up by drawing his attention to a passage out of the book, “The Hunting of the President,” in which the authors wrote that a meeting did take place at his office in November 1993, with David Henderson, Steve Boynton, John Mintz, Ronald Burr and Michael Horowitz, at which the topic was using Scaife funds and the American Spectator to, "mount a series of probes into the Clintons and their alleged crimes in Arkansas."
In response, Mr Olson did not deny that a meeting took place but disputed the description of the topic of the meeting and noted that he did, "not recall the meeting described."
During the confirmation proceedings, Mr Olson also lied through his teeth about how he ended up representing David Hale, a corrupt municipal judge in Arkansas facing a multitude of criminal charges who served as the "star" witness in the Whitewater fiasco claiming that President Clinton had pressured him to make a fraudulent $300,000 loan to Susan McDougal.
Mr Hale himself is a real piece of work. He ran the investment firm, Capital Management Services, and received matching funds from the Small Business Administration to administer loans to disadvantaged companies. However, a federal investigation showed that although Capital financed over 50 companies, Mr Hale secretly owned 13.
In 1994, Mr Hale pleaded guilty to fraud and conspiracy, but with more than a little help from his friends in high place, the low-life crook was able to avoid being sentenced for two more years.
When Senator Leahy asked Mr Olson at an April 5, 2001 hearing, how he came to represent this crook, he replied, "[t]wo of [Hale’s] then lawyers contacted me and asked ..."
A few seconds later he stated, "[o]ne of his lawyers contacted me– I can’t recall the man’s name– and asked whether I would be available to represent Mr. Hale in connection with that subpoena here in Washington, D.C. They felt that they needed Washington counsel with some experience dealing with a congressional investigation. I did agree to do that. Mr. Hale and I met together."
A little over a month later, in a May 9, 2001, letter, Mr Olson wrote, I "cannot recall when [he] was first contacted about the possibility of representing Mr. Hale."
He further states that he believes, "that [he] was contacted by a person or persons whose identities [he] cannot presently recall sometime before then regarding whether I might be willing to represent Mr. Hale if he needed representation in Washington.”
“As I recall,” Mr Olson wrote, “I indicated at the time that I might be able to do so, but only in connection with a potential congressional subpoena, not with respect to legal matters pending in Arkansas. . . .”
“I believe that this meeting was inconclusive because Mr. Hale did not at that time need representation in Washington," he stated.
One of the names that Mr Olson could not remember, even though he apparently wracked his brain for over a month, was David Henderson, the director of the Arkansas Project.
On May 11, 2001, the Washington Post may have helped jog Mr Olson’s memory when it reported that Mr Henderson said he had made the introduction when Mr Hale came to Washington to find a lawyer who could help him deal with a subpoena from the Senate Whitewater committee, and Mr Henderson sat in on a meeting.
During a May 17, 2007 hearing, Senator Leahy stated in regard to the wanna-be Solicitor General: “It now strikes me as strange that a man as capable as Mr. Olson with his vast abilities of recall could not remember the name of David Henderson.”
“It leads one to wonder,” he continued, “whether Mr. Olson’s failure to recall the name David Henderson had something to do with his not wanting to indicate the connection to such a central figure in the ‘Arkansas Project’.”
He also pointed out that a January 1996, letter written by Mr Olson to accept membership on the board of directors of the American Spectator was addressed to the publisher of the magazine and was copied to Mr Henderson.
When the Senate Whitewater Committee hearings got underway, not surprisingly, the Democrats were eager to call Mr Hale to testify because he was supposed to be the star witness in the Whitewater witch-hunt and the only person who had made any direct allegations of wrongdoing against President Clinton.
However, whenever efforts were made to bring in Mr Hale to testify, Mr Starr would claim that his appearance might hinder or impede his investigation, although Mr Hale continued to make his allegations against the President through the media where they of course were impossible to refute. As the minority, the Democrats were hamstrung, because they had no power to issue a subpoena to Mr Hale to compel his testimony.
When the pressure mounted to bring Mr Hale to Washington, Mr Olson jumped in to save the day by saying his busy schedule would not permit him to represent Mr Hale at the moment because he was preparing for 2 cases before the US Supreme Court in early 1996, and so the Committee would have to wait until he disposed of those cases.
Six month later on June 6, 1996, the Senate committee received a letter from Mr Hale’s attorneys, stating in part: "Mr. Hale will claim the protection of his Constitutional privilege under the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States and respectfully decline to testify ... if he is compelled to appear in response to the subpoenas."
John Mintz, a former general counsel for the FBI, also represented Mr Hale, and the question that has never been answered, is where would a bankrupt municipal judge get the money to hire a former assistant attorney general and high-ranking attorney in the FBI.
A report released in May 2001, stated that Mr Olson provided "approximately $140,000 in legal representation for which Hale has not paid and which has been written off by Olson's law firm as uncollectible."
The report also stated: "There is certainly reason to believe that Olson took on Hale as a 'paying' client with no real expectation that he would ever be paid."
The Senate Whitewater Committee ended its investigation without ever hearing from the man lauded as the star witness in the case against President Clinton.
However, Mr Hale was the star witness in the 1996 trial against Arkansas Governor Jim Guy Tucker and James and Susan McDougal. At the trial, Mr Hale testified that he had found Mr Olson through Randy Coleman, a Little Rock criminal defense attorney who represented him at the time, and that he was also assisted in the effort to find the Washington attorney by a "Senator Hollingsworth."
Had Mr Hale told the jury about the role of Stephen Boynton and David Henderson in helping him find Mr Olson, it would have certainly led to revelations about the Arkansas Project, including the money paid to Mr Hale as the key source for the demented plot.
In March 1998, Murray Waas and Jonathon Broder revealed in Salon Magazine that Mr Hale had received cash payments from the Arkansas Project regularly from 1994 to 1996. They quoted eyewitnesses Caryn Mann and her son who reported that after Mr Hale became a federal witness in the Mr Starr's investigation, he received payments from as little as $40 to as much as $500.
Sources told Salon that Mr Scaife funded the Project through tax-exempt foundations. “Under the scheme,” they wrote, “two of Scaife's charitable foundations transferred as much as $600,000 a year to a third charitable foundation, which owns the conservative American Spectator magazine“.
Most of the money was then transferred to Stephen Boynton, described in Salon, as an attorney and conservative political activist with long-standing ties to Scaife.
The article explains that a portion of the funds went to a Parker Dozhier, a sportsman and fur trapper in Hot Springs, Arkansas, who then made the payments to Mr Hale, and quotes Caryn Mann, Mr Dozhier's former live-in girlfriend, and her son Joshua Rand.
They told Salon that they witnessed the payments while Mr Hale was staying at Mr Dozhier's fishing cabin complex between 1994 and 1996. Ms Mann stated that Mr Dozhier was well compensated for his role in the scheme and that she kept the books and kept track of the incoming checks from Mr Boynton and his associate, David Henderson.
She told Salon that checks began arriving sporadically in 1994, but by 1995, $1,000 checks arrived monthly and that Mr Boynton and Mr Henderson showed up often to speak to Mr Hale and Mr Dozhier, and after they left, there was "always an abundance of cash."
"Sometime it was only $40, $60 or $80 at a time, but other times it was $120 or $240 or $500," Mr Rand explained in the article.
"If Hale needed to pay a $200 bill, Parker would give him the money, plus an extra $100 or $120 for his pocket,” he said.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, 2 former executives of the American Spectator, corroborated the story that funds from the Project went to Mr Hale. One executive stated: "Henderson told me that David Hale's family needed to be taken care of, and they had a way of doing that," and the second verified that account, according to the Salon report.
On April 13, 1998, Time Magazine reported that the attorney general, Janet Reno, wanted to examine the payments made to Mr Hale, but she still had not decided how.
The article notes that if she referred the matter to Ken Starr, “that means he would be investigating both his chief witness, Hale, and his own likely future benefactor, Scaife, who is partially funding two Pepperdine University deanships that Starr is supposed to settle into after Whitewater.”
In a series of reports for Salon in August 1998, Murray Waas reported that:
“In addition to his involvement with the American Spectator, Olson has served on the advisory boards of four separate Washington, D.C., conservative organizations that have received substantial funding from Scaife, according to a Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher biography of Olson and financial disclosure statements of the four political groups.”
Mr Waas also noted that Mr Olson's wife, Barbara, was a founder and member of the advisory board of the Independent Women's Forum, which he said had “received at least $350,000 in funding from Scaife over the last several years.”
The American Spectator served as a launching pad for the whole Paul Jones fiasco which started with what came to be called the, "Troopergate" article, authored by David Brock, alleging that Arkansas state troopers had helped procured women for then Governor Clinton and claiming that a woman named, "Paula," had told a state trooper that she would be willing to be the Governor’s girlfriend.
In April 1998, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that two of the troopers who were sources for the article, Larry Patterson and Roger Perry, were paid by Peter Smith, a Chicago investment banker, described as a large GOP contributor, “who spent about $80,000 over 18 months to get tales about Clinton's personal life into print,” in Time Magazine on April 13, 1998.
Mr Brock has since publicly apologized to the Clintons for his reporting in the Spectator and acknowledged that the troopers who claimed they procured women for then Governor Clinton had received money.
Behind the scenes, the Olsons were working hand and glove with the Jones attorneys. In 1994, Mrs Olson's Women's Forum considered filing an amicus brief in support of Paula Jones and the attorney with whom the group discussed the brief was none other than Ken Starr.
When it came time to argue whether a President could postpone litigation until he leaves office, before the Supreme Court, in early 1997, Mr Olson, and the rejected Supreme Court Justice of the Reagan Administration, Robert Bork, held a moot court to allow the Jones attorneys to practice their arguments before the hearing.
For her part, Barbara Olson, now deceased, devoted much of her time as wife of the bush Administration’s future Solicitor General, writing the book, "Hell to Pay," and literally trashed Hillary Clinton, the First Lady of the United States.