Conservative Group Hired Starr for Free Whitewater Counsel Agreed to Prepare Brief against Clinton

Article excerpt

KENNETH STARR, the newly appointed Whitewater prosecutor, was hired by a conservative women's group earlier this year to submit a legal brief opposing President Bill Clinton's claim of immunity in a sexual harassment lawsuit. He took on the task for free.

Starr accepted the Independent Women's Forum as a client, his law firm confirmed Thursday. He usually charges about $400 an hour, according to sources in the legal community.

It was previously known that Starr was considering writing the friend-of-the-court brief in former Arkansas state worker Paula Jones' case. But his agreement to write it for a conservative political group was not.

Starr was named last week to replace Robert Fiske as head of the Whitewater investigation.

He had served under President George Bush, who made him solicitor general, arguing the government's position before the Supreme Court.

Critics have charged his Republican activities make him too partisan to investigate Clinton's financial affairs. They seized on the latest revelation.

"We have everybody saying the appearance of absolute impartiality is important. It is much more clear that he would appear to be anti-Clinton than Fiske ever appeared to be pro-Clinton," Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., said.

Starr is on vacation this week.

Jay Lefkowitz, a lawyer in Starr's Washington-based firm, Kirkland & Ellis, dismissed the criticism.

"I just think that the notion that people cannot advocate positions for clients or have held politically appointed positions and then be independent and impartial is absurd," Lefkowitz said.

He said there was "no partisan outcry" when former Democratic Solicitor General Archibald Cox was named special Watergate prosecutor during the 1970s to investigate Republican Richard Nixon. …