This story has been rebuilt from the Center for Public Integrity’s archives. It was originally published in the Center’s ‘Inside PublicI’ newsletter in August 1996.
In June 1996, Forbes magazine reported that the Democratic National Committee was using overnight stays at the White House as a perk to entice wealthy donors to make six-figure contributions to the party.
For a contribution of $130,000, “you can spend the night in Abraham Lincoln’s bed,” ABC News’s David Brinkley, picking up on the Forbes item, said on This Week With David Brinkley, the Sunday-morning tele- vision show. “But be warned. I am told Lincoln’s bed is hard and lumpy.”
“This has become an urban myth, like the alligators in the sewers of New York,” Amy Weiss Tobe, the DNC’s press secretary, told the Center for Public Integrity. “It is just not true.”
There’s nothing unusual, of course, about politicians and political parties “servicing” their donors and fundraisers. In the summer of 1995, the DNC —in a letter signed by the party’s co-chair- men, Senator Christopher Dodd of Connecticut and Donald Fowler, and first disclosed by the Chicago Sun-Times — offered potential supporters a“menu” of rewards.
Who We Are
The Center for Public Integrity is an independent, investigative newsroom that exposes betrayals of the public trust by powerful interests.
A contribution of $100,000 or more, for example, would get a donor two meals with President Clinton, two meals with Vice President Albert Gore Jr., a slot on a foreign trade mission with DNC leaders, and other benefits, such as a daily fax report and an assigned DNC staff member to assist with their “personal requests.”
Fowler responded to charges that the party and the President were selling access and influence to contributors by saying that such fundraising efforts would continue until the law requires both parties to operate differently.
“Until the system is changed, we will not unilaterally disarm,” Fowler reportedly said, accurately reflecting the fact that every party and administration have given special treatment to its biggest supporters. A Democratic lobbyist familiar with perks for contributors told National Journal that spending the night at the White House was like having access to “the best candy store in town.”
The Center for Public Integrity has determined that, since 1993, more than 75 Democratic contributors and fundraisers have spent the night in the White House — mostly in the Lincoln or Queen’s Bedrooms — as guests of President and Mrs. Clinton.
When guests spend the night in the Lincoln or the Queen’s Bedroom, they receive five-star treatment. At night, the beds are turned down and breakfast menus placed on the beds. Guests may choose where they would like to eat breakfast — possibly in the solarium or the sitting room next to the Lincoln Bedroom — and which newspapers they would like to read in the morning.
Most guests receive a pass to roam the White House’s residential quarters. Almost every guest with whom the Center for Public Integrity spoke said that spending the night in the White House was an honor.
It is important to note that not all of the overnight guests at the White House are contributors or fundraisers. Ann Lewis, the Clinton campaign’s deputy manager and director of communications, sent a letter to Brinkley in which she pointed out that many others have slept in the Lincoln Bedroom, including “the cook from Clinton’s old governor’s mansion in Little Rock, a theology student with his wife and two children, and an old friend who is not well, and the president’s pastor and his wife, and none of them paid as much as a dime,” Brinkley said on the following week’s program.
Other overnight guests have included former President George Bush; former President and Mrs. Jimmy Carter; Leah Rabin, the widow of Yitzak Rabin, the late Israeli Prime Minister; former Texas Governor Ann Richards; and Lee Iacocca, the former chairman and chief executive officer of Chrysler Corporation.
The Democratic fat cats who’ve spent the night at the White House include Steven Grossman, the president of Massachusetts Envelope Company, and his wife, Barbara. They attended a state dinner for the president of Brazil in April 1995 and, later that evening, retired to the historic Queen’s Bedroom.
Steven Grossman told the Center for Public Integrity that it was “a memorable evening” and that he was “honored” to have been invited to the White House. When asked what he thought about David Brinkley’s report on sleepovers at the White House for substantial contributions to the Democratic Party, Grossman replied, “I have no comment.”
The Grossmans have contributed at least $400,000 to the Democratic Party and to Clinton since 1991. In 1994, Clinton appointed Barbara Grossman, who is a professor of theater at Tufts University, to the National Council for the Arts. Steven Grossman is the president of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and has been a managing trustee of the DNC. Grossman, a former chairman of the Massachusetts Democratic Party, told the Center for Public Integrity that he has “a working relationship” with President Clinton that goes back many years.
Another Democratic contributor whom President Clinton invited to spend the night at the White House was Lew Wasserman, the former chairman of MCA Inc., an entertainment conglomerate. Although Wasserman has spent the night in the White House at the invitation of various presidents, his clout within the Democratic Party has give nhim special access to Democratic presidents.
In the late 1970s, the late John White, then the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, informed Wasserman that the Democratic Party might have to vacate its Washington headquarters because of a financial shortfall brought on by the multimillion-dollar debt from the 1968 presidential campaign. Wasserman proceeded to take out his checkbook and write a substantial check that kept the DNC offices open, White told the Center in a 1993 interview.
What did Wasserman seek in return? Not anything, really, White told the Center. But there was one occasion, he recalled, when Wasserman was coming to Washington and couldn’t find a hotel room. He called White, who telephoned the owner of Washington’s expensive Madison Hotel, imploring him to accommodate Mr. Wasserman. Unfortunately, no room was available. White smiled proudly and recalled that he finally found overnight lodging for the wealthy Hollywood mogul—at the White House, in the Lincoln Bedroom. This favor for Wasserman, White said, was “just a small thing.”
Wasserman and his wife, Edie, have spent the night in the Lincoln Bedroom at least twice during the Clinton presidency and have contributed at least $450,000 to Clinton and the Democratic Party since 1991. He has also contributed to Clinton’s Legal Expense Trust, established by the President and Mrs. Clinton to help pay for their mounting legal bills from theWhitewater investigation and the PaulaJones sexual harassment lawsuit. In 1992, Wasserman invited 100 of his friends to attend a fund-raiser for Clinton and the Democratic Party sponsored by the Hollywood Women’s Political Committee. The minimum price of admission: $5,000.
In June 1996, Wasserman hosted a fund-raiser that raised more than $1 million for the Democratic Party. Over the years, Wasserman has contributed more than $1 million to the Democrats. He declined the Center’s request for an interview.
Here is a partial list of Democratic contributors and fund-raisers who have spent the night at the Clinton White House since 1993.
TRUMAN AND ANITA ARNOLD
Truman Arnold is the chairman and chief executive officer of Truman Arnold Companies, a wholesale petroleum distributor in Texarkana, Texas. Arnold, the founder and former owner of the Roadrunner convenience store chain, also has construction, banking, and cattle interests. He was the Democratic National Committee’s finance chairman for five months in 1995. He was the chairman of the 1992 Clinton-Gore campaign in Texas and headed the campaign’s 1992 energy advisory committee. In 1995, Clinton spent the night at their home in California, and in 1996, the Arnolds were guests at a state dinner for French President Jacques Chirac hosted by the Clintons. Truman Arnold Companies frequently provided air transportation for Clinton when he was governor of Arkansas. Truman Arnold did not respond to the Center’s inquiries.
JERRY AND STEPHANIE ATCHLEY
Jerry Atchley is the president and chief executive officer of Southern Skies, an Arkansas-based broadcasting company that owns several radio stations, including KSSN (FM) in Little Rock. Atchley declined to be interviewed.
DICK AND ANDREA BATCHELOR
Dick Batchelor is a former Florida state representative. In 1991, he orga- nized the first fund-raising event in Florida for Clinton’s presidential cam- paign. According to Batchelor, the event raised only $8,000. “I was there early on and did their first fund-raiser when nobody knew who Clinton was,” he told the Center for Public Integrity. “I got people to come because they owed me something or I owed them something. I told them to come because he [Clinton] is a good man.”
In 1993, the Orange County Commission hired Batchelor to lobby the federal government for a slice of the federal transportation pie. News accounts at the time suggested that Batchelor had been hired at least partly because of his connections to the Clinton Administration. In 1994, Clinton appointed
Batchelor to a U.S. delegation that witnessed the elections in South Africa.
In October 1993, Batchelor and his wife spent their 10th anniversary in the Queen’s Bedroom. “There was the reception that they [the Clintons] customarily have for their friends,” he said. “Jody Powell and Larry King were there, and we watched [the movie] Rudy.”
Allen Bird is a senior partner at the Rose Law Firm in Little Rock, Arkansas, where Hillary Rodham Clinton was a partner. In the 1970s, Bird worked as a statehouse lobbyist for then-Governor Clinton. After Clinton’s election, Bird moved to the nation’s capital to open a Washington office for the Rose Law Firm. In November 1994, the office was closed and he returned to Arkansas. Bird told the Center for Public Integrity that he didn’t want to talk about his overnight stay at the White House because it was “personal business.”
CURT AND CHARLOTTE BRADBURY
Curt Bradbury, a former president and chief executive officer of Little Rock- based Worthen National Bank, is the chief operating officer of Stephens Inc., one of the nation’s largest investment banking firms. He is presently a member of the State Board of Higher Education in Arkansas, and in 1994 Clinton appointed him to the President’s Committee on Arts and the Humanities. During the 1992 presidential campaign, Bradbury was a member of the Clinton- Gore Arkansas Finance Council. In 1992, while Bradbury was still with Worthen National Bank, the bank extended a $3.5 million line of credit to Clinton’s presidential campaign. “I would like to be in a position to think I could call the President of the United States and give him my views,” Bradbury told the Arkansas Times in 1992. After Clinton’s election, Bradbury was invited to join the American Banking Association’s board of directors.
Bradbury said that he and his wife, Charlotte, will never forget spending the night in the Lincoln Bedroom in 1993. “There is a handwritten
Gettysburg address [in the Lincoln Bedroom], so it’s like being in a muse- um,” he told the Center for Public Integrity. “The night JFK was shot, his brother Bobby spent the night there. They say you could hear him weeping. If you don’t feel like you’re absorbing history, you’re missing the point.”
PHILLIP AND DIANE CARROLL
Phillip Carroll is a senior partner at the Rose Law Firm. He and his wife, Diane, stayed in the Lincoln Bedroom the night after White House associate counsel Vince Foster, a former partner in the Rose Law Firm, committed suicide. In a letter to the Center for Public Integrity, Carroll wrote: “My wife and I flew to Washington, D.C., on July 21, 1993, to be with our dear friend, Lisa Foster, and her children. We left home on short notice and originally intended to fly back home that evening or to spend the night with our daughter, who lives in Washington D.C. . . . After spending several hours at Lisa’s home, we returned to the White House and were escorted to the Lincoln Bedroom, where we spent the night.”
Chevy Chase, an actor who has been one of Clinton’s biggest supporters in Hollywood, co-sponsored a $1,000-a-plate fund-raiser for Clinton in 1992 with actor Richard Dreyfuss, producer Jon Peters, and playwright Neil Simon. Chase has performed at several fundraisers to benefit the Democratic Party, including one in Little Rock in 1992 that raised $3 million. In 1994, Chase per-formed at another Democratic fundraiser, in Washington, D.C., and left with President Clinton after the event. Chase did not respond to the Center’s inquiries.
Mike Conway is a partner in theChicago-based law firm of Hopkins and Sutter. He was a classmate of the Clintons at Yale Law School. In 1992,Conway was the chairman of Lawyers for Clinton. In June 1996, Conway was a guest at a state dinner for Irish President Mary Robinson. “I have known theClintons for 24 years—I’m their friend,”Conway told the Center for PublicIntegrity in explaining why he wouldn’t answer questions about his overnight stay at the White House.
MICHAEL AND BETH COULSON
Michael Coulson is the president ofCoulson Oil Company in Little Rock. In1988, Coulson’s wife, Beth, was appointed to the Arkansas Court of Appeals. Critics of the appointment, according to the Dallas Morning News, charged that she had little experience for the job andgot it only because of her husband’s close ties to Clinton. Michael Coulson has contributed to the Presidential Legal Expense Trust, which the Clintons established to help pay their mounting legal bills from the Whitewater investigation and the Paula Jones sexual harassment lawsuit. Michael Coulson did not respond to the Center’s inquiries.
H. TYNDALL AND CARRIE DICKINSON
Tyndall Dickinson is the president of McGeorge Contracting Company in Sweet Home, Arkansas. He has contributed to Clinton’s Legal Expense Trust.
Richard Dreyfuss is an actor whose interest in politics is so keen that he has his own “personal political adviser,”according to The Washington Post. The“adviser,” Donna Bojarsky, has scheduled meetings for Dreyfuss with Presidents and prime ministers. In 1992, Dreyfuss gave stump speeches on Clinton’s first campaign bus trip and co-sponsored a $1,000-a-plate fundraiser for Clinton with actor Chevy Chase, producer Jon Peters, and playwright NeilSimon. Dreyfuss spent a night in the Lincoln Bedroom in April 1996 and had an early-morning chat with Clinton, who woke him at 7:20 a.m. to talk politics, according to The Washington Post.“They let you call anywhere,” Dreyfuss told a reporter for Time magazine, “so I called my kids from the Lincoln Bedroom.”
Patricia Duff and her former husband, Mike Medavoy, were early Clinton supporters and helped to introduce Clinton to Hollywood by hosting fund-raisers. In 1992, Clinton was a guest at their Coldwater Canyon home on one of his early trips to California as a presidential candidate. Duff is a member of the Hollywood Women’s Political Committee and the founder of Show Coalition. Both organizations are credited with giving Clinton a broader audience of supporters in Hollywood. Clinton made four trips to Los Angeles at the coalition’s invitation. Duff is also heading Women Vote!, a get-out-the-vote drive that’s affiliated with EMILY’sList, a political action committee dedicated to helping more women win elections. In 1995, Duff and her husband, Ron Perelman, the billionaire cosmetics magnate, hosted a $1 million event for Clinton in Palm Beach, Florida. They also hosted an exclusive meeting for potential big-ticket contributors wit hLeon Panetta, the White House chief of staff. Duff did not respond to theCenter’s inquiries.
DAVE AND MARGARET ELDRIDGE
Dave and Margaret Eldridge havetheir own consulting firm, Eldridge & Eldridge, in Little Rock. Dave Eldridge is a former vice president of Arkansas Power & Light Company; Margaret Eldridge is a former vice president of Twin City Bank in Arkansas. She has contributed to Clinton’s Legal Expense Trust. Margaret Eldridge told the Center for Public Integrity that she and her husband stayed in the Lincoln Bedroom at the invitation of Hillary Rodham Clinton, adding that they were invited because they are “family friends.” They have given only modest contributions to the Democrats, she said.
Richard Friedman is a wealthy Boston-based real estate developer. He owns restaurants, hotels, and shopping centers, as well as a 20-acre estate on Martha’s Vineyard where the Clintons vacationed for two summers. Friedman has since taken to calling his home the“Clinton Cottage.” By all accounts, Friedman is a colorful multimillionaire who gravitates toward the rich and famous. “I love people who have a tremendous amount of creative energy—whether they are in Hollywood, business, or the White House,” Friedman told the Boston Business Journal. “Highly successful people excite me.”
Friedman has hobnobbed with Barbra Streisand on the ski slopes of Aspen, Colorado, and dined with Mike Medavoy, the former chief executive officer of Tri-Star Pictures. Both Streisand and Medavoy have been overnight guests at the White House. In December 1995, Friedman joined other Democratic insiders in the White House for dinner and a movie with the President. After dinner, the guests made their way to the theater in the east wing of the White House for a private screening of Nixon, Oliver Stone’s three-and-a-half-hour epic. Friedman bowed out of the movie, according to a guest that evening, to spend more time in theLincoln Bedroom. Friedman did not respond to the Center’s inquiries.
David Geffen, the co-founder of DreamWorks SKG, is considered a key fundraising strategist in Hollywood for Clinton’s re-election campaign. He has hosted several fundraisers for Clinton:one, with DreamWorks SKG partners Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg, raised $2 million in 1995; another two in Geffen got “a perk any Washington lobbyist would die for: phone chats with White House chief of staff Mack McLarty.” He told Time magazine: “I have no active involvement in trying to influence legislation of any kind.” He attended a state dinner for Russian President Boris Yeltsin in 1994. Geffen did not respond to the Center’s inquiries.
Joseph Geller is a partner in Geller, Geller & Garfinkel, a law firm in Dania, Florida, and the chairman of the Dade County Democratic Party. Geller did not respond to the Center’s inquiries.
Gordon Giffin, a lawyer with Long, Aldridge & Norman, an Atlanta-based firm, ran Clinton’s Georgia campaign in1992. He was also the personnel director of Clinton’s transition team. When Erskine Bowles resigned as White House deputy chief of staff in 1995, Giffin’s name surfaced as a possible replacement. He was the finance chairman of the Georgia Democratic Party. In 1993, Clinton appointed Giffin to the board of directors of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation. Giffin did not respond to the Center’s inquiries.
GARY DAVID GOLDBERG AND DIANA MEEHAN
Gary David Goldberg, a television producer, and his wife, Diana Meehan, a writer, have been active Clinton supporters. In December 1992, Meehan hosted a women’s economic summit at their house, and the 50 attendees drafted a platform that they submitted to Clinton’s pre-inaugural economic conference.Goldberg insists that Hollywood has no influence over, or special access to, Clinton: “We’re not there making healthcare policy,” he told ABC News’s Nightline in May 1993. Earlier in the year,Goldberg and other celebrities met privately with the President to discuss a strategy for selling Clinton’s health care reform plan. The Center was unable to contact Goldberg or Meehan.
BRIAN AND MYRA GREENSPUN
Brian Greenspun is the editor and president of the Las Vegas Sun. He was Clinton’s college roommate. Greenspun has been instrumental in introducing Clinton to Las Vegas contributors, and in 1996 Clinton attended a $25,000-a-couple luncheon that Greenspun hosted in his Las Vegas home. According to The Houston Chronicle, a number of gambling industry executives attended the luncheon, including Stephen Wynn, the chairman of Mirage Resorts Inc. In 1993,Clinton appointed Greenspun to the White House Conference on Small Business. Greenspun did not respond to the Center’s inquiries.
MARK AND LIBBY GROBMYER
Mark Grobmyer, a godson of the late Jackson Stephens, was a member of the Clinton-Gore Arkansas Finance Council during the 1992 presidential election. Grobmyer, a lawyer with Arnold Grobmyer & Haley, often does work for Stephens Inc. He was a law student at the University of Arkansas whileClinton was teaching there. A longtime friend of Albert and Tipper Gore, he introduced Clinton to Gore in 1988. Mark Grobmyer did not respond to theCenter’s inquiries.
STEVEN AND BARBARA GROSSMAN
Steven Grossman, the president ofMassachusetts Envelope Company, and his wife, Barbara, are big contributors to the Democratic Party. (See above.)
Tom Hanks, the actor, hosted a fundraiser at the Century Plaza Hotel in West Los Angeles in 1995 that raised more than $1 million for Clinton. Hanks spent the night in the White House after a screening of Apollo 13. The next morning, Hanks and Clinton had breakfast together before the President presented the Congressional Medal of Honor to James Lovell, the commander of the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission, whom Hanks portrayed in the movie. Later in the day, in speeches at the National Press Club, Lovell and Hanks denounced plans to cut NASA’s budget. Hanks did not respond to the Center’s inquiries.
BOB AND REBECCA HERNREICH
Bob and Rebecca Hernreich of FortSmith, Arkansas, and Vail, Colorado, are longtime supporters of Clinton. Bob Hernreich is a former owner of Sigma Broadcasting Corporation, which had two television stations in Arkansas. He also has real estate and health care interests. The Hernreich family has given Clinton more than $40,000 since 1981 and are among his top ten career patrons, according to The Buying of the President. Bob Hernreich did not respond to the Center’s inquiries.
Frank Kumpuris, a retired surgeon in Little Rock, met Clinton in 1982 when he became involved in Clinton’s third gubernatorial campaign. Clinton later appointed Kumpuris to be a trustee of the University of Arkansas Board. Kumpuris did not respond to the Center’s inquiries.
M. LARRY AND SHELIA LAWRENCE
M. Larry Lawrence, who died in Januaryof this year, was a wealthy real estate developer whose properties included the Hotel del Coronado in San Diego. Over his lifetime, Lawrence contributed at least $10 million to Democrats, according to The New York Times. In 1994, the Federal Election Commission fined Lawrence $7,179 for excessive yearly campaign contributions. In 1992, Lawrence served on Clinton’s national finance board, and his wife, Shelia,headed the Clinton-Gore campaign in southern California. In 1994, Lawrence was sworn in as ambassador toSwitzerland and his wife as special envoy to the World Conservation Union in Geneva, Switzerland. She resigned from the post in November 1994. LarryLawrence’s confirmation was held up in the Senate for more than two months while Republican critics and the 11,000-member American Foreign ServiceAssociation questioned his credentials for the position, arguing that he’d been chosen only because he was a bigDemocratic contributor. PresidentClinton spent his first vacation in office at the Lawrences’ mansion in Coronado,California. Shelia Lawrence did not respond to the Center’s inquiries.
JAMES AND MARCIA LYONS
James Lyons, a lawyer with the Denver-based firm of Rothgerber Appel Powers & Johnson, has been a longtime confidant of Bill Clinton. When the Whitewater deal surfaced as a potential campaign issue in 1992, Clinton asked Lyons to write a report about the deal in an effort to dampen the news media’s interest in the subject. Lyons’s report said that the Clintons had lost $59,000 on the Whitewater venture. In October 1993, Clinton named Lyons to be the U.S. Observer to the International Fund for Ireland, an unpaid post that allows Lyons to continue practicing law in Denver. Lyons did not respond to the Center’s inquiries.
David Matter and Clinton were classmates at Georgetown University, where Matter managed Clinton’s unsuccessful 1968 campaign to be senior class president. Matter is the chief operating officer and president of Oxford DevelopmentCompany, a Pittsburgh-based real estate leasing company. He managed Clinton’s1992 campaign in western Pennsylvania and headed the primary campaign in 1996. The Center was unable to contact Matter.
RICHARD AND JENNIFER MAYS
Richard Mays runs Mays Law Firmin Little Rock, Arkansas. In 1980, Clinton appointed him to fill a vacancy on the Arkansas Supreme Court, and in 1991, Clinton appointed him to the stateEthics Commission. Mays was a key fund-raiser in Clinton’s 1992 presidentia lcampaign and organized an event “for the black community in Washington,D.C., that brought in more than $500,000,” according to Arkansas Business. Mays did not respond to the Center’s inquiries.
Mike Medavoy, a Hollywood executive who left Tri-Star Pictures in 1994 to form his own production company, and his former wife, Patricia Duff, were early supporters of Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign. Medavoy and Duff helped to introduce Clinton to Hollywood by hosting fundraisers for him. Clinton was a guest at their Coldwater Canyon home on one of his early trips to California as a presidential candidate. Clinton paid tribute to Medavoy at a 1992 motion picture awards dinner. Medavoy did not respond to the Center’s inquiries.
H. MAURICE AND ELIZABETH MITCHELL
H. Maurice Mitchell is a former law partner of Jim Guy Tucker, who resigned as governor of Arkansas following his conviction on May 28, 1996, in a Whitewater-related loan case. He was a member of the Clinton-Gore Arkansas Finance Council in 1992 and is on the Clinton-Gore National Finance Board for the 1996 re-election effort. In June 1995, Mitchell was the chairman of a luncheon at the Excelsior Hotel in Little Rock that raised more than $1 million for Clinton’s re-election effort. Mitchell did not respond to the Center’s inquiries.
PETER AND EILEEN NORTON
Peter Norton, the successful computer entrepreneur who created Norton Utilities, is a big Democratic contributor. Norton has retired from the computer industry and now devotes his time to his family and the Norton Family Foundation, a philanthropy that supports cultural and humanitarian projects. Eileen Norton is on the board of the Children’s Defense Fund; Hillary Rodham Clinton is a former director of the organization. In June 1994, Mrs.Clinton visited the Nortons at their home in Santa Monica, California. The Center was unable to contact the Nortons.
MERLE AND DELORIS PETERSON
Merle Peterson is a former state senator from Arkansas whom Clinton appointed in 1985 to the Arkansas Development and Finance Authority (he retired in 1995). In 1992, he was a fundraiser for a $100-a-seat event for Clinton. He has also contributed to Clinton’s Legal Expense Trust. In an interview Peterson recounted telling Clinton that“all I wanted out of the campaign was dinner at the White House.”
In November 1993, Peterson and his wife were staying in a hotel in Washington when a White House aide called them and invited them to come to the White House for dinner and to spend the night in the Lincoln Bedroom, Peterson told the Center. When asked about David Brinkley’s on-air remarks about the Lincoln Bedroom, Peterson replied, “That’s the lousiest statement I’ve ever heard.” Peterson said that should he be invited to spend a night in the Lincoln Bedroom again, he would decline the offer because “it is not that much fun.” The Lincoln Bedroom, he added, “is not your uptown hotel room,” and because the bed is four feet off the floor, “you have to jump to get into bed.”
WILLIAM AND CAROLYN RAINER
William Rainer, a co-founder of Greenwich Capital Markets, a bond-trading company, was one of Clinton’s key supporters on Wall Street during the 1992 campaign. After a lifetime of supporting Republicans, Rainer, a fellow Arkansan, switched allegiance from President Bush to Clinton because, he told Investor’s Business Daily at the time, he had “great confidence in Clinton’s leadership.” Rainer and his company each loaned the Clinton-Gore Inaugural Committee $100,000. In 1994, Clinton appointed Rainer to be the chairman of the U.S. Enrichment Corporation, which oversees the Energy Department’s procurement of uranium. Rainer did not respond to the Center’s inquiries.
SKIP AND BILLIE RUTHERFORD
Skip Rutherford is a paid Clinton campaign adviser with Cranford Johnson Robinson Wood, a Little Rock-based public relations firm that is working on a number of campaign-related activities, including Whitewater damage control. In 1993, Rutherford was invited to a surprise costume party for Hillary Rodham Clinton and was among a number of overnight guests that evening at the White House, Rutherford told the Center. Rutherford was an assistant campaign manager of the 1992 Clinton-Gore campaign, chairman of the Arkansas Democratic Party in 1989, and the vice president for public and governmental affairs at Arkla Inc. when Thomas F. (Mack) McLarty, Clinton’s former chief of staff, was its chairman and chief executive officer. As a member of the Clinton-Gore Arkansas FinanceCouncil, Rutherford was instrumental in raising money for the 1992 campaign. In June 1995, Rutherford helped to coordinate a fund-raiser that brought in more than $1 million for the Democrats.
STANLEY AND BETTY SHEINBAUM
Stanley Sheinbaum, an economist bytraining, is a liberal political activist and prominent Democratic fund-raiser. He is a former University of California regent and president of the Los Angeles PoliceCommission. Sheinbaum declined to be interviewed for this project. (Sheinbaum hosted a reception forthe Center for Public Integrity on March4, 1996, after a panel at UCLA.)
SIDNEY AND LORRAINE SHEINBERG
Sidney Sheinberg, a former president of MCA Inc., is a co-founder of The Bubble Factory, a Los Angeles-based motion-picture production company. Sheinberg is a longtime Democratic contributor. In 1996, he attended a gathering of Hollywood executives, who have collectively contributed millions of dollars to the Democrats over the years, at David Geffen’s Malibu home, where Clinton was the guest of honor. Sheinberg did not respond to the Center’s inquiries.
W. MAURICE SMITH
W. Maurice Smith is the former chairman of the Bank of Cherry Valley, a tiny institution in northeastern Arkansas that from 1983 to 1988 may have made more than $400,000 in unsecured personal loans to then-Governor Clinton. These loans surfaced during the Whitewater investigation because of allegations that they were paid off by James and Susan McDougal, the Clintons’ partners in theWhitewater venture, and others who may have received favors from the governor, according to the Christian ScienceMonitor. Smith was a top gubernatorial aide to Clinton and the director of the State Highway Department during the last five years of Clinton’s governorship.In 1982, when Clinton was running for governor, Smith helped him to raise $1 million. Smith has also contributed toClinton’s Legal Expense Trust. The Center was unable to contact Smith.
ROY AND MARY COURI SPENCE
Roy Spence is the co-founder and president of GSD&M, an advertising and public relations firm based in Austin, Texas, that has been a paid consultant to Clinton’s advertising team. Spence met Clinton when they were working on George McGovern’s 1972 presidential campaign. He helped to prepare Clinton for his speech to the 1992 Democratic National Convention and his 1995 State of the Union address. Spence’s advice — to stay focused on “the heart of the heartland and not the belt of the beltway” — is well-known around the White House, according to The Dallas Morning News. Spence made a loan of less than $100,000 to the Clinton-Gore inaugural committee. He did not respond to the Center’s inquiries.
STEVEN AND KATE CAPSHAW SPIELBERG
Steven Spielberg, a director, producer, and studio executive, and his wife, actress Kate Capshaw, have been key Democratic Party fundraisers and contributors. In April 1995, they hosted a fundraiser with Spielberg’s partners in DreamWorks SKG, David Geffen and Jeffrey Katzenberg, that raised $2 million for the Democratic Party. After the fundraiser, Clinton spent the night at Spielberg’s home in Pacific Palisades, California. Spielberg did not respond to the Center’s inquiries.
CHARLES AND BARBARA STACK
Charles Stack, a partner in the Coral Gables (Florida)-based law firm of High, Stack, Lazenby, Palahach & del Amo, raised more than $7 million for Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. In 1994, Stack hosted a dinner for the Democratic Party that raised $3.4 million. After Clinton became President, he nominated Stack to a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit. But Republicans, led by Senator Robert Dole, now the GOP presidential nominee, opposed Stack’s confirmation. Dole questioned Stack’s qualifications for the job, accusing Clinton of choosing him only because he’d raised “millions and millions of dollars” for the 1992 campaign. On April 22, 1996, Dole called on Clinton to withdraw the nomination. A little more than two weeks later, Stack removed himself from consideration. Stack did not respond to the Center’s inquiries.
Mary Steenburgen, an actress, is a supporter and a longtime Clinton friend from Arkansas. The Clintons and daughter Chelsea attended Steenburgen’s 1995 wedding to actor Ted Danson. Steenburgen did not respond to the Center’s inquiries.
WARREN AND HARRIET STEPHENS
Warren and Harriet Stephens are partof one of the wealthiest families in the United States. Warren Stephens is the chief executive officer of Stephens Inc., one of the nation’s largest investment banking firms. Although the Stephens family primarily votes for and contributes to Republicans, it gave considerable support to Clinton when he was governor and during his first presidential campaign. Some reports say that the family and its employees contributed more than $100,000 to Clinton’s 1992 campaign. Stephens Inc. made a loan of more than $100,000 to the Clinton-Gore Inaugural Committee.
Nonetheless, Warren Stephens told the Center that he would not support Clinton’s re-election. As for his night in the Lincoln Bedroom, in 1993, he said: “It was really special—a thrill. I don’t know exactly what gets you an invitation. I don’t know why I got invited, but it was a damn nice honor.”
Barbra Streisand, the actress and singer, is a staunch Clinton supporter. Streisand came out of semi-retirement as a singer in 1986 by hosting and performing at a fund-raiser at her Malibu home to benefit the Hollywood Women’s Political Committee, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, and Democratic candidates. The event raised $1.5 million. At another fund-raiser inSeptember 1992, she sang a modified version of “It Had To Be You,” titled “It Has To Be You,” that was dedicated to Clinton, according to the Seattle Times. After a June 1996 fund-raiser at the home of Lew Wasserman, the former chairman of MCA Inc., Clinton invited Streisand and some others back to his hotel, the Sheraton Miramar in Santa Monica, to talk politics, according to USA Today. Streisand has also contributed to Clinton’s Legal Expense Trust. Streisand did not respond to the Center’s inquiries.
(The Streisand Foundation has given a grant to the Center.)
Susan Thomases, a partner in the New York City-based law firm of Willkie Farr and Gallagher, is one of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s oldest friends and has been one of her closest advisers. Thomases was to have run the Clinton reelection effort in New York, but another prominent lawyer has filled that position. Thomases had a “special access”pass to the White House until press scrutiny ended the practice in 1994. Employees of Willkie Farr and Gallagher’s gave a total of nearly $50,000 to Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign, according to The Buying of the President, and Thomases and a colleague at the law firm each gave $1,000 to Clinton’s Legal Expense Trust. Thomases has testified before the Senate Banking Committee concerning the Whitewater affair. Thomases did not respond to the Center’s inquiries.
HARRY THOMASON AND LINDA BLOODWORTH-THOMASON
Harry Thomason and Linda Bloodworth-Thomason, both television producers, introduced Clinton to wealthy contributors in Hollywood in the 1992 presidential campaign. The Thomasons are both from Arkansas and are close friends of the Clintons. They were the first non-family members to spend the night in the Lincoln Bedroom after Clinton became President. The Thomasons co-chaired Clinton’s inaugural committee, and they had “special access” passes to the White House until press scrutiny ended the practice in1994. On April 25, 1996, Harry Thomason’s lawyer said that the JusticeDepartment had dropped its investigation of the role played by Thomason in the White House travel office matter. The pair produced “The Man From Hope,” a documentary about Clinton, for the 1992 Democratic National Convention. They are working on a documentary sequel for the 1996 convention in Chicago, according to the Sacramento Bee. In 1993, the Thomasons invited theClintons to vacation in their leased oceanfront estate in Summerland, California. The Center was unable to contact the Thomasons.
ALICE WALTON AND JOHN AND CHRISTY WALTON
Alice Walton and her brother John are part of the $23 billion Walton empire, based in Arkansas, that includes Wal-Mart, a chain of discount stores. Alice Walton, the president of Llama Company, a brokerage firm, and one of the wealthiest women in the United States, held a major fund-raiser for Clinton in New York City a week before the state’s presidential primary in 1992. John Walton has also raised money for Clinton. Alice Walton did not respond to the Center’s inquiries. The Center was unable to contact John Walton.
LEW AND EDIE WASSERMAN
Lew Wasserman, the former chairman of MCA Inc., an entertainment conglomerate, has raised more than $1 million for the Democrats over the years. (See above.)
CARL AND MARGARET WHILLOCK
Carl Whillock, a former state legislator and former president and chief executive officer of the Arkansas Electric Cooperatives Corporation, was a vice president of the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville when Clinton was a law professor there. As David Maraniss describes it in his book, First In His Class, when Clinton decided to run for Congress in 1974, Whillock was the first person he told. Whillock proceeded to go through a file of names to put Clinton in touch with “key contacts all across the Third Congressional District,” Maraniss wrote. After Clinton was elected governor, he appointed Whillock to be the chairman of his State Tax Reform Commission. Whillock told the Center for Public Integrity that he and his wife stayed in the Lincoln Bedroom but haven’t contributed very much money to the Democratic Party or to Clinton.“We are old friends of the Clintons,” he said. “It was just awesome. When you walk in [to the Lincoln Bedroom], you see the Gettysburg Address. Did you know that they signed the Emancipation Proclamation in there?”
Christopher Adasiewicz and Meredith Milton contributed to this story.