Annapolis 'FOB' to celebrate Clinton inaugural 'Friend of Bill' met president-elect when they were in school at Georgetown ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY

January 06, 1993|By Liz Atwood | Liz Atwood,Staff Writer

Tom Siebert, an Annapolis lawyer and telecommunication investor, is an FOB.

FOB, for those who haven't caught up with the latest acronym, means Friend of Bill. The president-elect, that is.

Mr. Siebert and his wife, Debbie, will be throwing an FOB party for about 200 guests at their spacious Georgian home Jan. 16, kicking off a week of inaugural events during which the Sieberts will dine by candlelight with the Clintons at inaugural dinners and dance at the glittering inaugural balls.

Mr. Siebert, who has spent much of the past year helping to raise more than $1 million for the Clinton presidential bid, met the president-elect when they were classmates at Georgetown University in Washington.

The son of a dentist from Vermilian, Ohio, Mr. Siebert majored in government. Inspired by John F. Kennedy's challenge to serve, he had been attracted to Georgetown by the chance to be involved in national politics.

His picture in the college yearbook shows a rather glum young man, in contrast to a smiling William J. Clinton, a student in the School of Foreign Service.

Although the two were not close friends in college, Mr. Siebert remembers being impressed by the Arkansas native when they were students.

"He was somebody of towering intellect," he says.

Even in college, Mr. Clinton had obvious political ambitions, Mr. Siebert recalls, being elected student government president three years in a row. "He was a little bigger than life to me," Mr. Siebert says.

The Georgetown class of 1968 was divided between prep school graduates from wealthy families and public school graduates of modest backgrounds. Mr. Siebert, who had attended a public high school and grew up in a middle-class home, says he was a bit intimidated by his more privileged classmates.

But Mr. Clinton, although teased about his Southern roots, was supremely confident, Mr. Siebert says. "What always impressed me was how this fellow could come of a lower socio-economic background and fit in a place like Georgetown."

While Mr. Clinton went on to Oxford and then to Yale University law school, Mr. Siebert studied at Georgetown law school and became a telecommunications lawyer. His interest in politics was cut short by the assassin's bullet that killed Bobby Kennedy. "I was crushed," says Mr. Siebert, who had been a volunteer in the Kennedy campaign.

He continued donating money to candidates, but had no desire to become active in politics -- until Mr. Clinton made clear his intention to campaign for president.

Mr. Clinton inspired his former classmate to end his self-imposed political isolation and delve into politics again. A mutual friend brought them together in October 1991 to discuss campaign strategies. "We said, 'What can we do? We're at an age where we don't lick stamps or run phone banks,' " Mr. Siebert recalls.

His energies focused on raising money, Mr. Siebert and his wife held the first Clinton fund-raising event in Maryland Jan. 7, drawing 125 people. That evening, Mr. Clinton spent hours at Mr. Siebert's dining room table, discussing his plans.

"He's really something different," Mr. Siebert says, his expression lighting up.

"He is the brightest person I've seen in politics in 25 years," Mr. Siebert says.

Even in the campaign's darkest moments, with the accusations of extramarital affairs and draft dodging, Mr. Siebert said, he never doubted Mr. Clinton would succeed.

The campaign over, Mr. Siebert doesn't know if he'll play a role in a Clinton government. He rules out a job related to the telecommunications industry because of potential conflicts of interest.

Although open to other possibilities, "I didn't do this to get a job," he says. "I like my life."

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.