Starr-Crossed

By Alterman, Eric | The Nation, October 30, 1995 | Go to article overview

Starr-Crossed


Alterman, Eric, The Nation


Starr Republican: Either investigating a complex web of alleged financial and political malfeasance takes less time than taking out the garbage, or Whitewater special counsel Kenneth Starr has an identical twin. How else to explain how the man chosen by Republican senators to investigate Whitewater has managed to earn $1.1 million since his appointment in the summer of 1994, working for such clients as G.M., Philip Morris and the Republican National Committee, and simultaneously teaching at N.Y.U. and Pepperdine Law School in Malibu? At the very least, Starr exhibits a blind spot for the importance of a special prosecutor's reputation for impartiality. Even initially, when he was appointed to replace the fully competent and uncompromised Republican investigator Robert Fiske, Starr was enveloped by an aura of partisan hackdom. Just before Reagan-appointed Judge David Sentelle (who overturned Ollie North's Iran/contra conviction) named Starr special prosecutor, he had met with Republican Senator Lauch Faircloth, a rabid anti-Clintonite. At the time of the announcement, Starr had been hard at work on an amicus brief in support of Paula Jones, the woman accusing the President of sexual harassment while he was Governor of Arkansas.

Today Starr, who did not return my phone call, doesn't bother to trifle with the appearance of impropriety: He works outright on behalf of Wisconsin's Republican Governor, Tommy Thompson. A strong contender for the bottom half of the 1996 Republican ticket, Thompson hired Starr to defend his state's school voucher program from court challenge. According to documents provided by People for the American Way (who can be reached at 202-467-4999), Starr has attended at least one strategy session in Milwaukee with a number of key conservative activists, including William Kristol, Clint Bolick and, perhaps more significant, Michael Joyce, president of the Bradley Foundation.

The Bradley Foundation has shown what can only be called an obsession with Whitewater and the political damage it can cause Clinton. Bradley has ponied up $345,000 to support The American Spectator, home of David Brock's state-trooper stories. It gave Brock additional money so that he could write a book calling Anita Hill "a bit nutty, and a bit slutty." It kicked in more than $1.4 million to Paul Weyrich's Free Congress Foundation, the founder of NET television, whose fundraising letters trumpet its Whitewater coverage and brag of the alleged role the network played in Starr's appointment. Bradley also came up with another $300,000 for the Landmark Legal Foundation last year; Landmark briefly advised Paula Jones and filed a formal Justice Department complaint about Clinton's fundraising efforts to pay legal fees in conjunction with the case.

In reporting on Starr's extracurricular activities and the obvious questions they raise, the Moonie-owned Washington Times quoted an anonymous "close associate" of Starr's who said that "such criticisms ignore Washington's sophistication in dealing with legal power brokers. …

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