A Million-Dollar Pledge Raises More Questions For Clinton

Beth Dozoretz, a major Democratic Party fund-raiser who urged President Clinton to pardon fugitive financier Marc Rich, last year pledged to raise $1 million for the Clinton presidential library, NEWSWEEK has learned.

The records detailing Dozoretz's previously undisclosed promise were turned over to a House committee today along with records showing that Dozoretz's friend, Denise Rich, the fugitive's ex-wife, had contributed $450,000 to the library. The documents surfaced even as a federal grand jury in New York-which is conducting a criminal investigation into the Rich pardon overseen by U.S. attorney Mary Jo White-subpoenaed records from the Clinton library along with all government records relating to the Rich pardon.

The size and timing of Dozoretz's pledge is almost certain to intensify the interest of investigators in any connection between Clinton's last-minute pardons and the funds being raised for his library--a project the former president has portrayed as a vital monument to his legacy.

Tom Green, Dozoretz's lawyer, said today: "There's absolutely no connection between any money raised for the Clinton library and the Rich pardon." Green acknowledged that his client had "a very few" conversations with the president "at which the pardon was mentioned." Asked to define "a very few" Green replied: "I don't think it was any more than three."

Investigators acknowledge that a direct link between the contributions and the pardon may be hard to establish. The records show, for example, that the $450,000 contributed by Denise Rich, who also asked Clinton to pardon her ex-husband, was given in three installments: $250,000 on July 15, 1998; $100,000 on Aug. 7, 1999, and $100,000 on May 11, 2000.

Sources familiar with the documents were unable to pinpoint precisely when Dozoretz made her pledge to raise $1 million. But the documents turned over to the House Government Reform Committee include a thank-you note from library president Skip Rutherford that is dated May 23, 2000.

That was months before Rich's lawyers began their full-court press to lobby Clinton for the pardon. The records turned over to date suggest that Rich's lawyers did not begin talking about a pardon until November-and that their campaign stepped up considerably during the last weeks of December.

Dozoretz's role in Rich's pardon, however, was key. And even staunch Clinton loyalists acknowledge that Rich and Dozoretz-who were also major fund-raisers for the Democratic Party-had unusually easy access to the president to press their case. One Jan. 10, 200, e-mail sent by one of Rich's lawyers describes a phone conversation he had with Denise Rich in Aspen, Colo. The e-mail relates a phone call between Dozoretz and Clinton in which the president purportedly told the fund-raiser "he was impressed" by Rich lawyer Jack Quinn's petition for a pardon and that "he [Clinton] wants to do it and is doing all possible to turn around the WH [White House] counsels." The e-mail continues: "DR [Denise Rich] thinks he sounded very positive but that we have to keep praying."

Green, Dozoretz's lawyer, said today that e-mail was actually a "garble of a couple of conversations" that Dozoretz had with the president about the Rich case.

Meanwhile, House Government Reform Committee chairman Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.) called the failure of the library foundation to turn over names of all donors "unacceptable." He said the committee will subpoena Rutherford to testify at a hearing next week and will "explore the option" of holding him in contempt of Congress should he fail to turn over all the records.