[The Entergy story, which is the only part that's news (if it's true) is the second half. But I leave the first half for its anecdotes and for , FWIW.]
Friday, May 4, 2007
Hillary's Mother-F'ing Tour Business
by Greg Palast
Before his untimely death in a plane crash, Commerce Secretary Ron
"I'm not Hillary's mother-f****** tour guide!"
That wasn't a nice thing for a member of the President's cabinet to
say about the First Lady, now my Senator, Hillary Clinton.
And it's probably not polite for me to bring it up now. But if I
don't, surely the Karl Rovarians will - if Senator Mrs. Clinton
nails the Presidential nomination.
Bill Clinton used to say that, once he became president, he finally
earned more money than his wife. That was a carefully crafted bit of
modesty to show Bill as an aw-shucks regular guy versus Richie
Rich-kid George Bush.
But Bill's cute remark raised a question in my mind: How did Hillary
get that big ol' salary? And another question arises: how has she
stayed out of prison?
The story's a little complicated, involving a New Orleans power
company, Indonesian billionaires, a New York nuclear plant and plain
old influence peddling. But if we follow the money, we'll get the
picture. And it ain't pretty.
But first, let's stop at Wal-Mart. Read an official biography of the
Senator and you'll find her six-month stint on a child-protection
task force. Yet you won't find her SIX YEARS on the board of
directors of Wal-Mart Corporation. She may have earned a Grammy for
"It Takes a Village to Raise a Child." But it takes a Governor's
wife to provide cover for Wal-Mart's profiteering off systematic
wage-enslavement of children in its factories in South America.
Sam Walton called Hillary, "My little lady." Sam paid her an eyebrow
raising sum for a director - equal to 60% of her entire
not-insubstantial salary as a lawyer. By contrast, Wendy Diaz (her
real name), a 13-year-old in Honduras, was paid 25 cents an hour to
make shirts for the "little lady's" label.
Hillary's rake-in was made possible by Wal-Mart's 100% union-free
operation and out-sourcing of 100% of its manufacturing, some to
prison factories in China. Now, you could say that Hillary couldn't
hear the screams of the kiddies in Kamp Wal-Mart in Honduras. After
all, she relied on the intelligence provided her by the President
Fast forward to 1994 and the Brown `mother-f'ing tour guide'
business. According to Nolanda Hill, the Commerce Secretary's
long-time business partner and love interest, Brown, who died in
1996, endorsed a Hillary cash-for-access scheme ($10,000 for coffee
with the President, $100,000 for a night in the Lincoln bedroom).
However, Brown resented the discount rate the First Lady put on US
executives joining Brown's lucrative trade missions. `I'm worth more
than $50,000 a pop!' he said.
One company more than happy to pony up for a cash joy-ride with
Brown was Entergy International. This electric company, based in
Little Rock, became one of the world's biggest power system
operators on the planet under the Clinton regime. Interestingly,
Bill Clinton began his political climb by running for Arkansas
Attorney General campaigning on a pledge to fight Entergy's electric
price hikes. His pro-consumer plan was defeated in court by
Entergy's law firm - which included one Hillary Rodham.
There were more favors for Entergy. In 1998, I discovered, while
working under cover for the Guardian and Observer, that Tony Blair
was personally fixing the system to let Entergy to violate British
policy on coal plants. Why? I picked up in my secret recordings of
Blair's cronies that calls to take care of Entergy, rules be damned,
had come in from the office of `the Flotus' - the First Lady of the
It gets creepier. In June of 1994, Entergy's partner in Asia, the
Riady family of Indonesia paid recently-resigned Associate Attorney
General Webster Hubbell a $100,000 consulting fee. Odd that: Hubbell
was on his way to prison for the felony crime of inflating his legal
bills. Why would Asians pay a lawyer for advice on Asia who was on
his way to the pokey?
Maybe it had to do with his partner in crime. I've conducted
investigations of lawyer over-billing. It is nearly impossible for a
senior lawyer to pad billing records unless the junior partner also
fraudulently monkeys with time logs to make sure the records don't
give away the game. Who was Hubbell's "little lady" junior partner?
Today we call her Madame Senator.
Hillary's logs were worth close inspection by authorities, no? But
the funny thing about Hillary's billing records: when requested for
disclosure in another suit, they disappeared. First, her law firm's
computers went ka-blooey. Then the paper printouts vanished, but not
before, during the 1992 Presidential campaign, they were secretly
combed over, line by line, by ... Web Hubbell.
Hubbell knew his own logs were phonied, and he understood the
consequences of exposure. Ultimately, bloated hours on those records
caused him to lose his law license, his Associate Attorney General
post and his freedom. He got 21 months in the slammer.
What did Hubbell see and know about Hillary's logs? Hubbell won't
say, except for a cryptic remark, after seeing her bills, that
`every lawyer' fabricates records. Hubbell pleaded guilty, but
refused to answer investigators' questions, a requirement in any
plea bargain - so the judge had to sentence him to prison.
Why would Hubbell choose to do time on the chain gang over
testifying about the First Lady? His prosecutors did not know at the
time of the $100,000 Riady payment, the first of over half a million
dollars Hubbell would receive from Clinton friends in the weeks up
to his entering jail.
And those Hillary billing records? Hubbell lost them - how
convenient. Then they reappeared two years later, just outside
Hillary's office, right after Hubbell announced he would refuse to
testify against her.
Maybe the Clintons knew nothing about the big money flowing to
prison-bound Hubbell. Knowledge of the payments would suggest they
were buying Hubbell's silence. In 1996, when the LA Times uncovered
the payments, Mrs. Clinton's First Man Bill stone-cold denied he
knew anything about it.
Then, in 2000, in a deposition by the Justice Department, the
President changed his tune. Investigators confronted the President
with this: on June 20, 1994, Hubbell met with Hillary. Two days
later, James Riady, the Asian billionaire Entergy partner, met with
Hubbell for breakfast. Just a few hours later, Riady returned to the
White House, then met again with Hubbell, then made two more treks
to the White House. Two days later, a videotape shows the beginning
of another meeting in the Oval Office between Clinton and Riady --
but oddly, before they talk, the tape goes blank. Two days after
that, Hubbell gets his $100,000 through a Riady bank.
Lying to journalists is a venal sin, but lying to the Feds is
perjury. In his deposition, the President's denial transformed into
amnesia. He couldn't remember if Riady mentioned the payment. Then,
the President slyly opened the door to the truth. "I wouldn't be
surprised if James told me," Clinton said. Neither would I.
What did Riady get? The Flotus herself, says Nolanda Hill, forced
Brown to accept the appointment of Riady's bag man, John Huang, as a
Commerce Department deputy. According to records of calls the
Guardian obtained via the Freedom of Information Act, Huang's first
order of business was to wheedle his way into confidential CIA
briefings on Indonesia and China, then call Riady and his Entergy
The same day Riady met the President, documents show he called on a
Clinton crony at the top of the department's Export-Import Bank. "We
just came over from the Oval Office," is a nice way to provide
assurance of the `political connection' required for help. These and
other Riady team meetings at Commerce are marked 'social'. Yet,
shortly thereafter, the department agreed to promote and fund the
Riady-Entergy China venture.
Influence is not a victimless crime. Riady and his minions' visits
to the White House (94 times!) included successful requests for the
President to meet Indonesian dictator Suharto and to kill negative
reports on East Timor and working conditions in Indonesia. Timorese
and Indonesians paid for these policy flips with blood.
Has Entergy's investment in Hillary's jail-bird partner continued to
Code Pink and New York environmentalists have been pulling out their
hair over Senator Clinton's backing of the operation of the creaky
old Indian Point nuclear plant just above - and within irradiating
distance of - New York City. The owner of the Indian Point nuke?
Hillary's old buck buddies, Entergy.
Am I saying Hillary would arrange for a payoff to keep witnesses
silent, to poison US foreign policy for the profit of corporate
cronies, to vote in Washington loaded down with conflicts of
interest? I would never say so. Even if the evidence will.
Greg Palast is the author of the New York Times bestseller, ARMED
MADHOUSE: From Baghdad to New Orleans -- Sordid Secrets and Strange
Tales of a White House Gone Wild. www.GregPalast.com