Denise Rich Donations Flowed
March 2, 2001
WASHINGTON Denise Rich, ex-wife of pardoned fugitive Marc Rich, pushed nearly $500,000 toward Democratic causes after a Rich confidant sent an e-mail saying she should be sent on a '"personal' mission to NO1" – whom congressional investigators identify as President Clinton.
Republicans and a federal prosecutor in New York have been trying to find out whether there was a money-for-pardon deal in Clinton's grant of clemency to the billionaire commodities trader.
Rich, who fled the United States in 1983 rather than face racketeering and other criminal charges, was pardoned by Clinton on Jan. 20 just before George W. Bush assumed the presidency.
Records examined Friday show there was a flurry of donations from Denise Rich – who divorced Rich in 1991 – following the "personal mission" e-mail, which was released Thursday at a House Government Reform Committee hearing.
Clinton supporters have said Denise Rich's contributions to the Clinton presidential library project came months before talk of a presidential pardon request.
Indeed, she made three donations to the library foundation totaling $450,000 – $250,000 in July 1998, then $100,000 in August 1999 and finally $100,000 in May 2000, two months after the e-mail was written.
The March 18, 2000, e-mail by Rich representative Avner Azulay to Rich lawyer Robert Fink talks about sending Denise Rich "on a 'personal' mission to N01 with a well-prepared script. If it works, we didn't lose the present opportunity – until Nov – which shall not repeat itself."
The House committee's chairman, Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind., suggested "NO1" was code for Clinton.
Fink didn't disagree that the reference was to the president. "It was not a code that we had, but I read it as you do," Fink told the committee at the hearing.
A seven-month flow of half a million dollars in contributions by Denise Rich followed the e-mail, starting with $50,000 to Hillary Rodham Clinton's Senate campaign on March 21. Other donations went to the Democratic Party, Mrs. Clinton's Senate campaign and President Clinton's library foundation.
Jack Quinn, Rich's attorney in pursuing the pardon and formerly Clinton's White House counsel, said he did not believe Denise Rich spoke to the president at that time about the pardon.
"I don't believe this was followed up on," he told the committee Thursday.
Committee officials looked at the names of 149 other large donors to the library foundation this week. On Monday, they expect to see how much certain donors gave and when. The review was to have occurred on Friday but was put off until the next week, officials said.
The Clinton foundation also was supplying a list of donors in response to a subpoena from New York U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White, who is conducting a criminal investigation into Clinton's pardon of Rich. Clinton issued a total of 140 pardons and 36 commutations in his final hours in office.
© 2001 Jesse J. Holland, The Associated Press