STRIP MINING FOR DOLLARS
Seems Bill Clinton isn't the only one in the family who consorts with -- how can the Prowler put this delicately? -- strippers. Okay, so Hillary Clinton wasn't actually consorting with women who shed their clothes for a living. If she had been, she probably would have given them tips on how to deduct donated used underwear from their taxes. But we digress. Senator Clinton was out in California on April 3, helping Gov. Gray Davis fundraise for his re-election campaign. And it was her appearance that garnered his campaign a check that is causing a ruckus on the Left Coast.
Given that Davis has raised more than $43 million, it's unclear just what Hillary could have brought to the table that Davis's voracious cash appetite hasn't already devoured. But Clinton did show up for the dinner in Los Angeles, and many checks were written as a result of her appearance. One of those drafts was made out for $10,000, from an Upland, Calif.-based company, Manta Management, a firm that owns three well-known strip clubs in Southern California.
One, the Flesh Club, made headlines in 2000 when undercover cops paid female Flesh employees to perform sex acts on one another. Charges from that sting operation were thrown out by the state court of appeals. But Davis has a staff that vets donations to make sure there's nothing about the donor that could prove embarrassing to the governor. Evidently, though, the Manta name didn't register, or perhaps when you have only $43 million, every $10,000 counts. For whatever reason, the check got cashed.
"In the back of your mind, when you're going through hundreds of checks, you're thinking, 'What are the chances that one of these is going to be a problem?'" says a Davis volunteer in his Los Angeles offices. "Still, I wouldn't want to be the check-vetter if my life depended on it. It's too tough a job."
Well, whatever the odds, they weren't good. The Los Angeles Times discovered the Manta donation and called Davis on it. The governor promptly said the donation would be returned.
"You know what?" says the Davis volunteer. "I bet we get another check from them in a month or so and we'll cash it just like the last one. It's the same reasoning. What are the chances it will get picked up by the media?"
That's the kind of question Hillary could have helped the campaign with. But by the time the story broke, she was long gone.
Much has been made of the symposium that the University of Arkansas will host in June on the presidency of Bill Clinton, especially since the university has promised attendees that Clinton himself will not attend. "We were fearful he'd show up and want to speak to defend his record and his legacy," says a Washington-based historian who will take part.
But even without Clinton, plenty of his supporters will be there to defend his honor. That's because the university, along with the University of Virginia, is underwriting an "oral history" of Clinton's life and times. (No tittering, please.) More than 400 people are being interviewed for the oral history project, which ultimately will be housed in Clinton's library, but which is being organized and administered by University of Arkansas history professors. "We'll be there at the symposium, interviewing people and tracking what is being said," says a Razorback grad student. "People from Clinton's library will be there too. They want to know who their friends are."
Apparently, the library is expecting a flurry of requests for access to Clinton's papers once the library is open. Library administrators intend to dole that access out to friendly researchers first, enemies second, if at all.
Vice President Dick Cheney may be an even bigger draw to Republicans than President Bush. On a recent swing through Florida, Cheney headlined a fundraiser for Rep. Clay Shaw, which brought in more than $500,000. That one event more than doubled the entire haul for the past three months of Shaw's likely Democratic opponent, Palm Beach County Commissioner Carol Roberts. Between January and March, she raised little more than $200,000.
Shaw is expected to win handily, not only because he's well-financed, but because he's running in a newly reapportioned district that's now more favorably Republican.