Fred Lucas | Staff Writer | Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Superior Court Judge Aurelio Munoz of Los Angeles ruled Friday that Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), vying for the Democratic presidential nomination, will not have to be deposed in the fraud lawsuit brought by Hollywood businessman Peter F. Paul against former President Bill Clinton until after the November 2008 elections.
The latest court ruling comes after an October 2007 decision by the California Court of Appeals (Second Appellate District) that said Sen. Clinton would not be a defendant in the lawsuit Paul initially brought against both Clintons.
So the recent court ruling - barring appeal - could effectively remove any possibility that Sen. Clinton would be deposed on the matter in the midst of a presidential campaign, were she to be the nominee.
Paul's lawsuit claimed that in exchange for producing a fundraiser for Hillary Clinton's Senate race, then-President Bill Clinton agreed to work as a rainmaker for Paul's company after leaving the White House but that he reneged on the agreement, causing investors to pull their money out of the company.
Sen. Clinton's firmest rebuttal of Paul's charges came in a written declaration on Apr. 7, 2006: "I have no recollection whatsoever of discussing any arrangement with him whereby he would support my campaign for the United States Senate in exchange for anything from me or then-President Clinton, and I do not believe I made any such statement because I believe I would remember such a discussion if it had occurred."
The Clinton campaign later admitted to under-reporting $721,000 in receipts from the Paul event. Though the Federal Election Commission (FEC) fined the Clinton campaign $35,000 and Sen. Clinton's campaign finance chairman David Rosen was indicted by a federal grand jury (and later acquitted on charges related to the Paul event), no official investigative agency determined the New York senator had direct knowledge of the wrongdoing.
But Paul said the Clinton campaign continued to misreport the event as recently as the amended report in 2006.
In a posting on his blog, Paul said, "Had Senator Clinton been forced to testify under oath, as a material witness and beneficiary of the fraud that her husband is being sued for before the Democratic Convention, her remote chances for being nominated the party candidate would have been unquestionably destroyed."
In April 2007, Paul obtained a videotape that showed the former first lady helping to plan the event, which Paul said would constitute an illegal in-kind contribution of about $2 million. Cybercast News Service first reported the existence of the videotape.
Paul has said the motivation for his lawsuit was to provide compensation for his business. However, he said he also hoped the lawsuit would expose the illegal fundraising as well, which he believes law enforcement has ignored.
The ruling on discovery doesn't permanently exclude Sen. Clinton from being part of the case. Judge Munoz, who initially ruled Sen. Clinton would not be a defendant, warned Clinton attorney David Kendall in 2006 not to try to block her deposition during discovery. "Any opposition is probably going to be dead on arrival," the judge said then.
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