Several individuals told federal
investigators in 1998 and 1999 that one of the overseers of the
Arkansas Project had recruited Theodore B. Olson, President Bush's
nominee for Solicitor General, to provide legal representation for
David L. Hale, the Whitewater Independent Counsel's chief witness
against Bill Clinton. During his recent confirmation hearings, Olson
himself claimed to have virtually no recollection of how he had come
to represent Hale. Olson's nomination is already stalled because of
concerns by Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats about whether Olson
has given honest and forthcoming testimony on related matters.
The Arkansas Project was a $2.4 million effort to investigate and
discredit President Clinton, mounted by The American
Spectator magazine between 1993 and 1997, and funded by
conservative billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife.
Attorneys who are familiar with still-secret portions of the
so-called "Shaheen report" -- which detailed the relationship
between the Arkansas Project and Hale -- said it contained an
account as to how one of the founders of the Arkansas Project, David
Henderson, was involved in assisting Hale by successfully recruiting
Olson to serve as Hale's legal counsel. That investigation was
conducted by a special counsel, Michael E. Shaheen -- a former
senior Justice Department official -- who was appointed with the
mandate to determine whether individuals associated with the
Arkansas Project provided Hale with favors, gratuities, and legal
representation in an effort to corruptly influence Hale's testimony
regarding former President Clinton.
Additional details regarding Olson's representation of Hale, not
included in the Shaheen report, have emerged over the course of the
last several days in interviews with this reporter by several other
individuals with personal knowledge of the matter.
Late last evening, the Senate Judiciary Committee made public a
relatively small number of pages from the Shaheen report. And even
those relatively sparse excerpts contained significant redactions
and deletions of information relevant to Olson's confirmation,
according to attorneys who have read fuller versions. Most of the
details regarding Henderson's role in recruiting Olson as Hale's
attorney were not contained in the portions made public yesterday.
A spokesman for Independent Counsel Robert W. Ray said that their
office was unable to make the full report available, because it
contains grand jury information, which they are prohibited by law
from making public.
The new revelations about how Olson came to represent Hale come
not very long after the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary
Committee, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, as well as the other eight
Democrats on the committee, voted against Olson's confirmation last
week as they charged that Olson has been evasive and nonresponsive
about his knowledge of the Arkansas Project and his role as Hale's
In leading the opposition to Olson's nomination, Leahy said that
he was "concerned that Mr. Olson has not shown a willingness or
ability to be sufficiently candid and forthcoming with the Senate."
Among the several concerns that Leahy said that he had regarding
Olson was Olson's claim that he could recall little if anything at
all about how he came to represent Hale: "Is this selective memory,
or is this something that he didn't want us to know about?" Leahy
On May 9, Olson wrote to Leahy that he could not recall who had
first contacted him "about the possibility of representing Mr.
Hale;" that the little that he could remember was that he had been
"contacted by a person or persons whose identities I cannot
presently recall;" and that his recollection of the matter had grown
"quite faint" over the years. The events in question, Olson further
asserted, had never had any "special significance to me" in the
But several individuals told investigators during the Shaheen
investigation that David Henderson, who oversaw the Arkansas
Project, had first approached, and then recruited Olson to represent
Hale, according to attorneys familiar with the probe.
Moreover, some investigators have been privately skeptical of
Olson's claims that he could not recall much about how he came to
represent Hale, while so many other individuals involved provided
detailed information and recollections during the federal probe
about how the legal representation came to be.
Various portions of the Shaheen report that were made public
yesterday appear to advance Olson's chances of confirmation, while
others appear to raise new questions about his involvement with Hale
and the Arkansas Project.
On the one hand, the report concluded there was no evidence of
wrongdoing by Olson: "Theodore Olson, in representing Hale . . .
asserted legal arguments and objections on behalf of his client . .
. The unquestionable assertions of a client's legal rights, even by
an attorney who provided [what] amounted to 'free' legal services
because he viewed the client as a thorn in the side of a political
foe, is not a likely successful theory for prosecuting either lawyer
or client for witness bribery, obstructing justice or witness
But another portion of the report made public yesterday also
disclosed for the first time that Olson provided "approximately
$140,000 in legal representation [to Hale] for which Hale has not
paid and which has been written off by Olson's law firm as
uncollectible." The report further concluded: "There is certainly
reason to believe that Olson took on Hale as a 'paying' client with
no real expectation that he (or his firm) would ever be paid."
A senior Democratic staffer on the Senate Judiciary Committee
said this week, "I think that a reasonable person could easily come
to the conclusion that an attorney of Ted Olson's caliber was not
going to provide someone like David Hale with $140,000 worth of
legal services . . . without an expectation of ever being paid,
unless he was pursuing some personal, partisan or political agenda."
In its vote on Olson's nomination for Solicitor General last
week, the Senate Judiciary Committee, deadlocked 9-9, along straight
partisan lines, over whether to confirm Olson. Under ordinary
circumstances, when there is such a split vote, the nomination is
not then sent to the full Senate for a floor vote, thus usually
dooming the nomination. But because the Senate is currently evenly
divided 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans, Senate Majority
Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss) has the authority in the case of a tie to
file a "discharge motion" to bring the nomination before the full
Senate. The question is whether he can do so before Senator James
Jeffords officially leaves the Republican Party (something he is
expected to announce on Thursday), handing control to the Democrats.
On Sunday, Lott asserted that allegations that Olson had been
"evasive" in his Senate testimony amounted to little more than
"flyspecking" and "character assassination." Republican Senator
Orrin Hatch, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and
Olson's most ardent defender, has said that he believed Olson had
"been truthful and forthright" during his confirmation, and has
suggested that Democrats were opposing Olson's nomination as
retribution for the fact that Olson successfully argued Bush's case
before the Supreme Court during last year's election crisis.
In an attempt to avoid a divisive fight over Olson's nomination
on the Senate floor, the Bush White House urged Senate Republicans
to compromise with their Democratic counterparts by allowing for a
limited Judiciary Committee staff investigation regarding unresolved
issues concerning Olson's nomination. Congressional investigators
now say the issue of whether Olson was evasive or non-responsive
about how he came to represent Hale will almost certainly be at the
forefront of any such inquiry.
Henderson -- also at the time the vice president of the American
Spectator Educational Foundation, which oversaw the conservative
magazine -- directed the day-to-day activities of the Arkansas
Project with a second conservative activist and lobbyist, Stephen S.
The federal criminal investigation lead by Shaheen began in July
1998, as the result of allegations first made by an Arkansas woman,
Caryn Mann, and her son, Joshua Rand, that a representative of the
Arkansas Project named Parker Dozhier, had made numerous cash
payments and provided other gratuities to David Hale, during a time
that Hale was a critical cooperating witness in Independent Counsel
Kenneth Starr's Whitewater probe.
Mann and Rand said that Dozhier, a self-styled sportsman from Hot
Springs, Arkansas, with whom they lived for several years, made
modest payments of cash and provided Hale with the free use of a car
and cabin. Dozhier admitted to having been paid $48,000 as an
"investigator" and "operative" for the Arkansas Project. But both
Dozhier and Hale have adamantly denied that any money exchanged
hands between them.
Testimony by Hale, a disgraced former Arkansas municipal court
judge, had been central to Starr's office winning fraud convictions
in 1996 against then Arkansans governor Jim Guy Tucker, and James
and Susan McDougal, the business partners of Bill and Hillary
Clinton, in their failed Whitewater real estate venture.
Hale himself had earlier pled guilty to two felonies related to
his admission that he had defrauded the Small Business
Administration of more than $3.2 million through a federally
subsidized company that he headed.
Hale had also alleged that Bill Clinton, while governor of
Arkansas, had pressured him to make an illegal and fraudulent
$300,000 loan to Susan McDougal from his federally subsidized
lending company. Under oath, Clinton adamantly denied Hale's
Starr spent several years relentlessly attempting to prove that
Hale's allegations were true and that Clinton had lied under oath,
but to no avail. When Starr ultimately sent his impeachment referral
to the U.S. House of Representatives in the summer of 1998, it
related solely to Clinton's alleged wrongdoing in the Monica
Lewinsky affair, and contained no allegations regarding Whitewater.
appointed Shaheen in April, 1998 to conduct an entirely separate
and independent criminal investigation into whether individuals
working for the Arkansas Project had attempted to corruptly
influence Hale's testimony regarding then President Clinton.
Shaheen's investigation concluded that there was insufficient
evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt whether Dozhier gave
small amounts of cash to Hale. Another conclusion of the
investigation was that although individuals working for the Arkansas
Project provided Hale with favors and gratuities and found him legal
assistance, there was little evidence to show that they had done so
with the intent to corruptly influence Hale's testimony regarding
The Shaheen investigation also uncovered evidence that "persons
associated with the Spectator" made $8,800 in payments to an
Arkansas attorney, Jay Bequette, to defend Hale against criminal
charges brought by Arkansas prosecutors alleging that Hale had
misrepresented the solvency of an insurance firm he owned to state
regulators. Hale made the misrepresentations, the prosecutors
alleged, to conceal the fact that he looted the firm. Hale was convicted on
those charges in March of 1999.
Shaheen's investigation also briefly examined the circumstances
surrounding Olson's representation of Hale, in an attempt, as with
the case of Bequette's representation of Hale, to determine whether
Olson's serving as Hale's attorney amounted as an attempt by the
Spectator or individuals associated with the Arkansas Project
to provide Hale something of value to influence his conduct as a
Olson's representation of Hale was of particular interest to
investigators because of the fact that Olson and his law firm
provided $140,000 of legal services to Hale without much hope of
ever being paid for them. But Shaheen ultimately concluded that the
free legal services also did not influence Hale's testimony as a
federal witness in the Whitewater investigation.
During the course of that inquiry, however, several individuals
told federal investigators that it was David Henderson, the vice
president of the Spectator Foundation who also oversaw the
day-to-day activities of the Arkansas Project, who first recruited
Olson to represent Hale.
Henderson himself told investigators that he first suggested to
Olson that he should represent Hale in the December, 1993, according
to these sources. Henderson also asserted that he first raised the
issue with Hale around the same time period. And Henderson also said
that he attended a meeting with Olson and several other individuals
in Olson's Washington D.C. law office around the same time to
discuss the potential representation at some length.
Another individual with first-hand information about how Olson
came to represent Hale through Henderson is Caryn Mann, whose
allegations regarding the Arkansas Project initiated the Shaheen
investigation in the first place. In a 1998
interview of Mann this reporter conducted for Salon
magazine -- some three years before the current controversy -- Mann
also asserted that Henderson had introduced Hale to Olson.
Mann asserted during that 1998 interview: "Dave Henderson came up
with Ted Olson. At first P.D. [Parker Dozhier] said that he had
never heard of him. He said, 'I don't like it. I don't know who this
guy is.'" Henderson, in stark contrast, recalled Mann, was "very
excited and positive about Olson . . . He was effusive. He told them
that they could not do any better than Ted Olson."
After prodding by Henderson, Mann said, Hale and Dozhier then
drove to Washington D.C. to meet Olson for themselves.
Mann also asserted that Dozhier told her that The American
Spectator had agreed to reimburse him and Hale for any expenses
incurred by making the trips. Financial records of the Arkansas
Project show that Dozhier was routinely reimbursed for travel
expenses during that period, but the records are not specific enough
to show whether he was reimbursed for that particular trip.
After Hale personally met with Olson, according to Mann, both
Hale and Dozhier came away impressed: "When they came back, they
weren't concerned about anything anymore. It was all taken care of."
Unlike other witnesses interviewed during the Shaheen
investigation, Mann said this week, an FBI agent and prosecutor who
questioned her and her son never asked her anything about Olson.
"Their inquiry appeared to be narrowly focused," Mann said, "Had
they asked me, I would [have] told them exactly what I told you in
1998: that Henderson set Hale up with Olson. But that did not seem
to be their focus."
Regarding Olson, Dozhier provided investigators with an account
regarding Hale, Henderson, and Olson that was remarkably similar to
Mann's, according to lawyers familiar with Dozhier's statements.
Dozhier confirmed to investigators that it was Henderson who first
made the recommendation to him and Hale that Olson represent Hale,
and introduced Olson to Hale. And Dozhier also admitted that he
drove Hale to Washington D.C. to meet Olson.
A fourth individual, who worked for the Spectator during
the same time, and who was also interviewed by Shaheen's staff, says
that he too was directly told by others involved in the Arkansas
Project that it was Henderson who arranged for Olson to represent
Hale. This person, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said
however: "If anyone working for the United States Senate or the
Senate Judiciary Committee has questions for me, I will answer them
truthfully, and in full."
A fifth individual who might have relevant information for the
Senate Judiciary Committee regarding Olson's representation of Hale
is Michael J. Horowitz, a former Reagan administration official who
is now a Senior Fellow with the conservative Hudson Institute.
Ironically, Horowitz raised the issue himself in an effort to clear
Olson of other allegations that Olson had misled the Senate
committee about Olson's knowledge of the Arkansas Project.
In a statement that Horowitz sent the committee on May 14,
Horowitz said that Olson was a friend of 20 years, and that he has
the "highest regard . . . for his professionalism, intelligence and
integrity." Horowitz sent his statement to the committee because a
central issue for Senator Leahy in considering Olson's nomination
has been whether Olson was being entirely truthful before the
committee when he asserted that he had not known of the existence of
the Arkansas Project until the spring of 1997. Leahy has said that
he was skeptical of Olson's claims because of Olson's multiple roles
during that time as a member of the board of directors of The
American Spectator, counsel for the magazine, and counsel for
Hale. The activities of the Arkansas Project began in earnest the
fall of 1993.
Moreover, an article published in Salon magazine in 1998
asserted that one of the first meetings regarding the formation of
the Arkansas Project took place in December of 1993 in Olson's law
office. According to the article, the other participants at the
meeting were David Henderson; Stephen Boynton, the conservative
activist who oversaw the Arkansas Project with Henderson; Ronald
Burr, then the publisher of The American Spectator; John A.
Mintz, a former general counsel of the FBI and law partner of
Olson's; and Michael Horowitz. After publication of the article,
Shaheen's staff interviewed every single person who attended the
In response to recent questions by Leahy regarding the alleged
meeting, Olson told the Judiciary Committee: "I do not recall the
meeting described. I certainly was not involved in any such meeting
at which a topic was using Scaife funds and The American
Spectator to 'mount a series of probes into the Clintons and
their alleged crimes in Arkansas.' And I have no notes, time records
and other documents relative to any such meeting."
Apparently referring to the very same meeting, Horowitz told the
Judiciary Committee in his statement that he very likely had
attended the meeting in question, but it did not relate to the
Arkansas Project. Instead, according to Horowitz, the meeting was
held to discuss Olson's legal representation for David Hale.
In his statement, Horowitz said: "I attended one meeting in Mr.
Olson's presence at which the matter discussed was legal
representation for David Hale, who was facing congressional
testimony and was in need of distinguished Washington counsel. At
that meeting -- at which no mention I know of was made of the
'Arkansas Project' or any term like it -- the subject under
discussion was whether Mr. Olson's firm would serve as counsel to
Mr. Hale." Horowitz provided virtually the same exact account to
federal investigators who questioned him regarding the matter,
according to sources familiar with his statements.
Regarding the same meeting, Olson similarly told investigators
for Shaheen's office that "the participants may have discussed Hale
needing a 'Washington lawyer' to represent him if he were called to
testify before any Congressional committees."
Olson's recollection of the meeting -- that its purpose was to
consider finding counsel for Hale -- directly contradict his later
statements to the Senate that he could not recall the December, 1993
meeting at all, and that he also could not recall who first
approached him to represent Hale.
In an interview on Monday with this reporter, Horowitz said that
he could not recall the date of the meeting, and exactly who all the
other participants were. But he insisted he was quite sure the
meeting did indeed take place, and that his primary reason for
attending was to convince Olson to represent Hale. And Horowitz also
said that he did specifically recall the attendance of John A.
Mintz, the former FBI general counsel and law partner of Olson's,
who others recalled as attending as well.
According to records of the now defunct Senate Whitewater
committee, Olson and Mintz later jointly represented Hale when the
committee considered calling Hale to testify. At the direction of
Olson and Mintz, the records show, Hale declined to testify before
the committee, absent a full grant of immunity from prosecution.
Mintz wrote the Senate committee in a June 6, 1996 letter: "I
have advised the Committee -- that Mr. Hale will claim the
protection of his Constitutional privilege under the Fifth Amendment
. . . and respectfully decline to testify . . . if he is compelled
to appear in response to the subpoenas."
Democratic Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, a member of the
Whitewater Committee and a former prosecutor, angrily declared at
the time that his fellow senators should "not be bamboozled and
bullied by a legal scheme into giving an immunity that we don't need
to give." Kerry pointed out that if the committee accepted Mintz's
proposal, once on the witness stand, Hale would be free to disclose
his involvement in any number of serious crimes, and escape any
prosecution for them, because of such an immunity deal.
Ultimately, the Senate Whitewater Committee declined to grant
immunity to Hale as a condition for him to testify. The committee
completed its investigation and issued a final report without ever
hearing from its most important potential witness.