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Jewish World Review Jan. 17, 2001 / 22 Teves, 5761

David Limbaugh

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Consumer Reports


Justice for Riady?


http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- THE CLINTON-RENO Justice Department is boasting that it has finally snared Indonesian businessman James Riady, one of the primary kingpins of the Clinton-Gore campaign finance scandal. On closer inspection, Justice has little to brag about.

Riady's indictment in the last fortnight of Clinton's tenure is more cause for suspicion than it is for celebration. The same is true for the terms of his plea agreement with the government.

Riady has agreed to plead guilty to a single felony involving a conspiracy to violate federal election laws. Riady will also plead guilty to 86 misdemeanor counts involving illegal foreign campaign contributions on behalf of LippoBank California -- part of the Lippo Group, a Riady family conglomerate.

Before you buy into the administration spin that the record $8.6 million fine is severely punitive, understand that Lippo is a multibillion-dollar company. Riady won't even feel it. But he will feel the freedom of not having to serve one day of jail time for his major role in corrupting the United States election process.

It's convenient that Riady made his deal with Clinton-Reno, rather than the Bush Justice Department. It's especially convenient for Clinton, as noted by the Wall Street Journal editorial page, that Riady's plea involves illegal contributions made from 1988 to 1994, wholly disregarding (and presumably forever foreclosing prosecution on) his tainted soft-money contributions to the Clinton-Gore effort in 1995 and 1996.

Here's some background on Riady. Clinton met him in Little Rock, Ark., in 1984, when he came there to run his family's bank. The two have been fast friends ever since.

Perhaps the most notorious meeting between them took place in Clinton's limousine in Little Rock in the heat of the 1992 presidential campaign. The men left a Clinton fund-raiser together where Riady had contributed $100,000. During the short ride, Riady reportedly promised that there would be plenty more where that came from. As it turned out, Riady bought substantial access to Clinton, visiting the White House over 20 times after 1992 and often lobbying Clinton on foreign policy issues, including expanding trade with China.

Riady's Lippo Group was among Clinton's greatest contributors, but it often laundered its donations through individuals (straw donors). Lippo was the company that hired Clinton's disgraced assistant attorney general Webster Hubbell after he resigned and paid him $100,000 allegedly without requiring any appreciable work in return. Investigators suspected this was hush money to procure Hubbell's silence about the various Clinton scandals and activities.

The Riady's were also connected with John Huang, another major player in the Clinton campaign finance saga. When Huang left the Lippo Group to accept his payback appointment in the Clinton Commerce Department, Lippo gave him $450,000 in severance pay. Huang's official reason for leaving his $205,000 salary with Lippo was "to have the opportunity to serve the country through this administration."

Within a month of his appointment, Huang curiously obtained a top security clearance from the Clinton administration. Because he didn't begin at Commerce until six months later, Huang enjoyed top security access while still an employee of the Lippo Group.

To put this in perspective, we can now connect a few of these dots and say that friend of Bill, John Huang, had top security clearance with the Clinton administration for six months while employed with a foreign company that would later plead guilty to 86 counts involving illegal foreign campaign contributions.

Commerce officials estimate that Huang attended over 70 meetings in 1994 and 39 in 1995 during which classified material might have been discussed. More troubling is that he maintained very close ties to Lippo during that period. Phone records show that he called Lippo at least 70 times shortly after these private briefings at Commerce. The Lippo Group, whose U.S. operations Huang once headed, reportedly benefited from at least $1 billion in trade deals negotiated through the Commerce Department.

On Sept. 13, 1995, Clinton met at the White House with Huang, Riady and others where Clinton personally arranged for Huang to be transferred from Commerce to an important position in the Democratic National Committee. Huang, ostensibly due to a bureaucratic error, retained his top-secret security clearance after he left Commerce and was with the DNC. While at the DNC, Huang raised some $3 million for the Democratic Party, about half of which was illegal foreign money that had to be returned.

Riady's prosecution is well and good, but wouldn't you just love to learn what Riady knows about Bill Clinton?



JWR contributor David Limbaugh is an attorney practicing in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, and a political analyst and commentator. Send your comments to him by clicking here.

Up

01/15/01: Ashcroft: A hill to die on
01/10/01: Returning to the supply side
01/08/01: Reasons for optimism
01/03/01: Bush's daunting challenges
12/28/00: Ashcroft: A triumph for the rule of law
12/26/00: A tinge of revenge?
12/20/00: GOP: Breaking the race barrier
12/18/00: Civility doesn't require surrender
12/13/00: Al Gore: Innocent victimizer
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12/06/00: The four years war
12/04/00: Debunking Gore myths
11/29/00: Defending the smaller principles
11/27/00: Albert O'Gore and the little people
11/22/00: Doing 'anything to win'
11/15/00: Enough is enough, Mr. Gore
11/13/00: Al Gore: Thy country or thyself?
11/08/00: Bill and Al: Your time is up
11/06/00:The impending Bush mandate
11/01/00: Can't stop thinkin' 'bout tomorrow
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10/25/00: Mr. Gore: A few more questions
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10/18/00: Gore's down, so will he panic?
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10/11/00: Gore: Fuzzy math = dirty politics
10/10/00:Gore: Renaissance man or unbalanced?
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10/02/00: Clintonís fragmented presidency
09/27/00: Liberal media doth protest too much
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09/13/00: An open letter to open-minded cynics
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08/28/00: A campaign divided against itself
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08/02/00: The first attack dog
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07/24/00: The raging culture war
07/19/00: Is Hillary 'Good for the Jews'?
07/17/00: How dare you, George?
07/12/00: Jacoby's raw deal
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06/28/00: Some questions for you, Mr. Gore
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05/24/00: Not so fast, Hillary
05/22/00: Gore's risky, fear-mongering schemes
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03/22/00: Media to Bush: Go left, young man
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03/13/00: Deifying of the center
03/08/00: The media, the establishment and the people
03/01/00: McCain's coalition-busting daggers in GOP's heart
02/28/00: Bush's silver lining in McMichigan
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02/14/00: The campaign finance reform mirage
02/09/00: President McCain: End of the GOP as we know it?
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02/02/00: SDI must fly
01/31/00: Veep gores Bradley
01/26/00: The issues gap
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01/20/00: Nationalizing congressional elections
01/18/00: Do voters really prefer straight talk?
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01/03/00: McMedia?
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12/22/99: Bradley's full-court press
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12/08/99: Clinton's labor pains
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11/29/99: Are Republicans obsolete?
11/24/99: Say you're sorry, Mr. President
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11/03/99: Keyes vs. media lapdogs
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10/20/99: Clinton's mini-meltdown
10/18/99: Senate GOP shows statesmanship
10/13/99: Senate must reject nuclear treaty
10/11/99: Bush bites feeding hand
10/06/99: Jesse accidentally opens door for Pat
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09/29/99: Reagan: Big-tent conservatism
09/27/99: The Clinton/Gore taint?
09/22/99: Have gun (tragedy), will travel
09/20/99: Hillary's blunders and bloopers
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09/13/99:Time for Bush to take charge, please
09/10/99: Bush's education plan: Dubya confounds again
09/07/99: Pat, savior or spoiler?
09/02/99: Character doesn't matter?
08/30/99: Should we judge?
08/25/99: Dubyah's drug question: Not a hill to die on
08/23/99: Should Dubyah start buying soap ... for all that mud?
08/16/99: 'W' stands for 'winner'
08/11/99: The truth about tax cuts
08/09/99: Hillary: Threading the needle
08/04/99: What would you do?
08/02/99: No appeasement for China
07/30/99: Hate Crimes Bill: Cynical Symbolism
07/26/99: Itís the 'moderates', stupid
07/21/99: JFK Jr. and Diana: the pain of privilege
07/19/99: Smith, Bush and the GOP
07/14/99: GOP must be a party of ideas
07/12/99: Gore's gender gap
07/08/99: Clintonís faustian bargain: our justice
07/06/99: The key to Bush's $36 million
06/30/99: Gore: a soda in every fountain
06/28/99: 'Sacred wall' or religious barrier?
06/23/99: GOP must lead in foreign policy
06/21/99: Crumbs of compassion
06/16/99: Compassionate conservatism: face-lift or body transplant?
06/10/99: Victory in Kosovo? Now What?

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