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When it comes to the shady business of campaign fund-raising, Hillary Clinton's modus operandi has always been to raise as much cash as possible, regardless of the veracity of the source. In 1992, it was James Riady. In 1996, it was Johnny Chung. In 2000, it was Peter Paul.
There are some who lead oversized lives, pursuing great dreams and extraordinary enterprises while all too often skirting the law. Peter Paul is such a man. One of his more dubious achievements was becoming the biggest fund-raiser for Hillary Clinton's 2000 Senate bid and unleashing the most spectacular campaign spending fraud in U.S. history.
PETER PAUL'S COLLISION COURSE WITH HILLARY CLINTON
We spoke with Peter Paul in his home in North Carolina where he was awaiting sentencing on a second felony conviction. We asked right from the start why people should believe his version of events:
I don't expect anybody to take what I say at face value. I ask people to look at the public record. Look at [Hillary Clinton's] responses to my legal pleadings. Look at her sworn declarations, and look at mine. Look at testimony of friends of Hillary's who testified about the corruption in her campaign. It corroborates all that I'm about to tell you.
The seeds for Paul's collision course with Hillary Clinton were planted in Miami in the 1970s, years before he met her:
I set a goal for myself to transform sleepy little Miami into an international trade center. One of my projects was the development of the World Trade Center in Miami. I wanted to make a mark on my hometown with this project. So I hired the foremost architect in the country, I. M. Pei. I got the air rights to build over the convention center-this was a first in using air rights. And I got the Department of Commerce to grant a license to own and operate the largest foreign trade zone in the United States. In the course of this enterprise, I ended up representing political figures and foreign governments in the region. And I began collecting people as friends and clients. First into my collection was the artist Salvador Dali. We became friends quickly because we could converse; he would start in French, Spanish, or English and go through a series of languages until he got to the end of the sentence. I also represented Andy Warhol and worked with Peter Max, but my focus was on international trade. Fidel Castro had been trying to undermine democracies in the region. So I began representing anti-Castro leaders, and I directed a sting on Castro to reveal how he was buying black market coffee and selling it to the Russians as "Cuban coffee" and personally pocketing the difference. We succeeded in depriving Castro of close to $9 million. Unfortunately, Jimmy Carter was president, and he decided to use our activities to enhance his relations with Castro. Rather than enforce the Trading with the Enemy Act, Carter secretly helped Castro recover the money I took from him. This led me to work undercover with various task forces to reveal that, in fact, Carter-through his finance manager, Burt Lance-had a secret relationship with Castro in which they actually laundered Castro's drug money into Carter's presidential campaign. At the end of it all, I pleaded guilty to a felony count of conspiring to defraud the Cuban government and possession of cocaine. I was sentenced to eight years, reduced to five-and-a-half years when agents from three U.S. agencies explained the extenuating circumstances to the judge. In the next chapter of my life, with the help of Reagan's kitchen cabinet in California, I became associated with some Hollywood icons and I began publishing biographies of celebrities including Buzz Aldrin, Tony Curtis, and Muhammad Ali. Jimmy Stewart and I started a foundation to help emerging democracies behind the former Iron Curtain. On the first Christmas after the breakup of the Soviet Union, I directed the broadcast of It's a Wonderful Life to 200 million Russians who had never seen an American production. It was glorious! Next I wanted to prove I could turn an out-of-work model into a media icon. So here was this fellow Fabio Lanzoni; he wanted to be a Van Damme or a Schwarzenegger, but was getting nowhere. I helped him understand that he had a constituency of 28 million romance readers who didn't know he was a real person. So I got the top literary agent in the business to represent Fabio as an author. Now, Fabio didn't speak English very well, and he didn't write very well. But we overcame that and got the biggest advance for a romance book ever-$100,000. Fabio became the first male romance writer, and within eighteen months I had him on the cover of People magazine. That led me to Hillary for the first time. I arranged a book signing for Fabio in the White House. I wanted a photo that would top the one Nancy Reagan had taken with Mr. T. I figured that if I could get Fabio to lift Hillary up into a romance pose, that would top them all. So I got a private meeting with the Clintons, Danny DeVito, and Fabio. And at one point, I induced the men to chase Hillary around the table. She was in a ball gown, and she was concerned about being too heavy for Fabio to pick her up gracefully. She ultimately just sat down on the floor to stop things. Bill Clinton told her not to be a prude. And Fabio reached down, lifted the First Lady up by her posterior, and coaxed her into taking photos. I sent Hillary roses many times after that! Next time I saw Hillary, she was beginning her campaign for the Senate. I reminded her of that encounter and asked for a copy of the Hillary-Fabio photo from the official White House photographer. She said that if I helped her campaign, she could get that photo for me. Meanwhile, I had become a business partner with Stan Lee, the creator of Spider-Man. We wanted to export inspirational stories to kids around the world who were in desperate need of inspiration. It dawned on me that if I could hire an ex-president to help us in Asia and Europe, we could accomplish our objective within the lifetime of my partner-who was seventy-nine. So I embarked on an effort to hire Bill Clinton when he left the White House as a rainmaker for our company, Stan Lee Media. At this time, an old employee of mine, Aaron Tonken, came to see me. He had, through Denise Rich, befriended the Gores and the Clintons and helped them in their Hollywood fund-raising activities. Aaron needed my help in building up his importance in the eyes of his political contacts. If I would help him, he would help me attain my business objectives.
AARON TONKEN HELPS HILLARY IN HOLLYWOOD
Aaron Tonken is currently an inmate at Ashland Federal Correctional Institution in Kentucky. He was sentenced in August 2004 to sixty-three months in prison for pleading guilty to one count of mail fraud and one count of wire fraud for the mishandling of monies to charities. He was taking money meant for one charity and putting it into other charities. Like Peter Paul, there is a rather colorful story behind Aaron Tonken:
In the early 1990s, I was living in a homeless shelter. One day I met Zsa Zsa Gabor and ended up moving into her Bel-Air estate as her assistant. In that capacity I met all of Hollywood very quickly. My overall impression of celebrities and entertainment executives was not a good one. I found them to be consumed with greed, self-indulgence, pride, and arrogance. Through Zsa Zsa I met Peter Paul. He gave me an office and his Rolodex, and I would basically call all the relationships Peter Paul had. I would get to know these name celebrities-people like Charlton Heston, Milton Berle, Ed McMahon-and spend time talking to them and convincing them to attend parties. One day my friend and client Natalie Cole invited me to a lunch with President and Mrs. Clinton. At the last minute, I was required to pay $50,000 to come, so I wrote the check. Once the Clintons found that I had access to celebrities, they hungrily pursued me. I found Mrs. Clinton to be very engaging. When she speaks to you, you're the only person in the room. She's very warm, very interested in what you have to say. My relationship with Mrs. Clinton was much closer than with Mr. Clinton. She would call me, let me ride in the car on campaign trips, visit movie sets with me, allow me to visit the White House often. In various videos Mrs. Clinton has made for me, she has referred to "my good friend, Aaron Tonken" and told a roomful of supporters that "she's fortunate to have made me as a friend." We had a growing relationship, though I don't know where it ultimately would have led, since most everyone who gets close to the Clintons winds up in prison.
Aaron Tonken's first big project with Peter Paul in February 2000 was to cohost a fund-raiser with Bill Clinton and the governor of California. Peter Paul was clear on his own objectives in hosting this event:
I paid $30,000 for this event, and I told Aaron I wanted a video clip of Bill Clinton talking about Stan Lee's superheroes. But the evening wore down and Bill Clinton was leaving, and still no video clip. I repeated to Aaron that I really needed that clip. So Aaron planted himself in front of the president and his Secret Service contingent and turned the president on his heels and forced him to come back and give me the message I wanted. When I saw that Aaron was able to do that, I believed he could help me reach the president with an offer. At this event, I was introduced to the chairman of the Democratic Party, Ed Rendell, and I asked his advice in hiring the president. He said that if I gave $500,000, I would be among the top five contributors to the party and therefore would be able to spend quality time with the president. Ed Rendell and I talked again soon after that, and this time he suggested that since Hillary's campaign was heating up, I should become a donor to her campaign.
Why were Hillary and Bill Clinton, and Democratic Party leaders, working in earnest with a man like Peter Paul?
When I began planning fund-raisers for the Clintons, I was required to give my Social Security number, birth date, and so forth. I was worried that they'd find my convictions from the 1970s objectionable. But I passed muster. From then on, they had all the details about my past.
Aaron Tonken was much closer to Hillary than Peter Paul was, and he offers another view on Hillary's feelings about her new largest fundraiser:
Peter Paul was basically paying for these fund-raising events for Hillary, but he was kept at arm's length. I had been invited fourteen times to the White House. Peter Paul hadn't been invited even once. Hillary didn't speak with him except when I forced it. So she definitely did business with him but kept a certain distance so she could disassociate from him quickly if need be.
Hillary did plenty of "business" with Peter Paul, with Aaron Tonken serving as a convenient middleman. In return for $150,000 plus event costs, Peter Paul was permitted to host a luncheon at Spago for influential denizens of Hollywood.
Aaron Tonken recalls the Spago luncheon:
I told Hillary that I would raise millions for her if she would have lunch with me at Spago. When celebrities saw me with politicians, they would think me important. When politicians saw me with celebrities, they would think me important. So we lunched at Spago. I paid Dionne Warwick $10,000 to sing "That's What Friends Are For." I invited some deep Democratic pockets, along with Mrs. Larry King, Olivia Newton-John, and the wife of Wolfgang Puck. It was all very showy. At the time I was completely ignorant of the Federal Election Commission or any of the laws regarding political fund-raising. So I didn't even know the dangers I was wading into.
Seated next to Hillary at the luncheon, Peter Paul recalls delving into legally gray areas:
I was testing the waters with Hillary to see how far I could go into my colorful career. But she was unfazed by it all. We talked about my experiences as an international lawyer, my anti-Castro activities, and my investigation of Burt Lance.
In the course of sharing our "pasts" during the bonding session we had during a VIP lunch I hosted for her at Spago in Beverly Hills, June 9, 2000, I made references to my swashbuckling days as an international lawyer in Miami in the 1970s when I led a plot to expose Fidel Castro's frauds on his benefactors in the Soviet union while liberating almost $10 million from his personal piggy bank, the Banco Nacional de Cuba. These activities, during Jimmy Carter and Bert Lance's control of the government, resulted in my receiving two felony convictions and a suspension of my law license, which clearly did not bother her. (See my latest court filing in Paul v. Clinton et al.) She did discuss fate and destiny with me and her belief that we are all predestined to the lives we live. She intimated her conviction that her destiny could lead her to becoming the most reknown [sic] woman in history, and I had the distinct impression it was based on her presumption of a career beyond being the first copresident of the U.S. and the first First Lady to become a U.S. senator. Hillary's announcement is clearly not a surprise to anyone who has known and followed Hillary's career-it was in fact anticlimactic in the controlled, low key way she threw her considerable girth into the ring. But the notion that she is interested in a conversation with her fellow Americans signals the beginning of the most cynical, Clinton-speak propaganda campaign since Joseph Goebbels and Lenni Riefenstahl got together to develop a winning political campaign for Mr. Shickelgruber. The American people, and America as we know, it is now "officially" threatened by the greatest internal political threat that has ever confronted our civil liberties and our constitutional democracy. (http://www.peterfpaul.com/2007/01/)
I was a little nervous, because I had my video camera on-and I wanted to lead her into a gray area. The president cannot sign contracts when he's in the White House, but he certainly can negotiate a deal so that when he leaves the White House, he's ready to sign. But I had nothing to worry about-Hillary said she would help in any way she could. Turns out, we had something in common: the winter carnival years before at Dartmouth. Hillary had been set up on a blind date for the carnival with a fellow I knew from California. He was a surfer and wasn't happy in the snows of New Hampshire, so he proceeded to get drunk and abandon her. He was so drunk, she recalled, that he took his surf board and tried to surf the hills of a golf course. She had quite a vivid recollection.
Hillary could quickly remember the blind date, the roses, those kinds of things. But in testimony under oath as First Lady, she said, "I don't know" or "I don't remember" a record two hundred and fifty times. Peter Paul gave us additional insight into her selective memory:
She can't remember significant details of things that happened a few months prior, yet she has detailed recollections of things that happened twenty and thirty years earlier. Talk to her today and she doesn't have much recollection of the interactions we had at this critical moment in her life. She doesn't remember inducing me to be her biggest donor. She doesn't remember that I was her donor at all. What's interesting is she has not denied any of the allegations I have made. I filed a sworn declaration, which laid out all our conversations in great detail. Her response was not that I'm a liar and not that I didn't do what I said. Her response under oath was she "doesn't remember the conversations, and if we had those conversations [she] would remember, so therefore we couldn't have had the conversations." That's a clever non-denial denial.
Excerpted from HILLARY by David N. Bossie Copyright © 2008 by David N. Bossie. Excerpted by permission.
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Posted March 18, 2008
former chief investigator david n.bossies latest bestseller 'hillary' is a remarkable account of the senators years in office as well as the questianable avenues she has taken and will take to achieve her goals. this book also has interviews with prominate law enforcment and polical and legal officals and there is also a 90 minute dvd included as an added bonus. I think the information here will make a big difference in the 2008 election. great gift idea for a friend or family member.
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Posted August 8, 2010
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