Whitewater prosecutor explores L.A.-Hubbell deal Starr seeks records on former official's lobbying for city

November 05, 1996|By LOS ANGELES TIMES

WASHINGTON -- The Whitewater independent counsel has asked Los Angeles officials for records documenting the arrangement under which former top Justice Department official Webster L. Hubbell was paid $24,750 to lobby the Clinton administration on behalf of the city.

Representatives of the special prosecutor, Kenneth W. Starr, conveyed their request to Los Angeles Controller Rick Tuttle last week, according to city officials.

The controller's office responded immediately, the officials said, sending a copy of the check that Hubbell received last year and other documentation to Little Rock, Ark., where the Whitewater prosecutors are based.

The independent counsel's request comes as questions have increased about the nature of fee arrangements that Hubbell entered into between the time of his departure from the Justice Department in March 1994 and his guilty plea in December 1994.

Hubbell, a former law partner of Hillary Rodham Clinton and friend of the president and Mrs. Clinton, is serving a federal prison sentence on charges of bilking his former clients and partners at the Rose Law Firm in Little Rock.

He had been associate attorney general, the No. 3 position at the Justice Department.

In a letter faxed Wednesday to the controller's office, associate independent counsel Steve Parker requested "any and all records" relating to Hubbell's employment by Los Angeles' Department of Airports.

"We would specifically be interested in all internal memos and communications between Mr. Hubbell and your office," Parker wrote. "We would also request copies of invoices and statements submitted by Mr. Hubbell. In addition, please furnish any communications between the Department of Airports and your office regarding Mr. Hubbell's contract, services he provided, and payments he received."

Hubbell was hired to help persuade the Clinton administration not to block Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan's proposed shift of $58 million from a Los Angeles International Airport account to the city general fund.

The independent counsel's interest in Hubbell's arrangement follows Los Angeles Times' articles last month about how he obtained the contract and what he did to earn the money.

The articles reported that Hubbell's work fell far short of what he described in two letters he had written to city officials to detail his efforts.

The Times also reported that Hubbell won the no-bid, oral contract after being recommended by a Clinton presidential appointee who had been Clinton's top campaign fund-raiser in California.

Hubbell has told investigators for the U.S. Department of Transportation's inspector general that he did not know how officials in Los Angeles came to be interested in him.

The Los Angeles City Council voted 13-0 Friday to urge Tuttle to investigate the Hubbell arrangement.

Tuttle had delayed the city's payments to Hubbell last year, demanding that Hubbell and airport officials submit documentation to verify that he did any work for the city.

In addition to the Los Angeles city transaction, Hubbell also benefited from two other arrangements in 1994: a $45,000 grant from a nonprofit foundation to write articles on public service, and an arrangement with an affiliate of the Lippo financial group, a banking, real estate and insurance concern based in Jakarta, Indonesia, that was founded by Mochtar Riady in the early 1970s.

Hubbell did not write any articles for the foundation, its chief officer has said; he declined to discuss details of his work for the Lippo affiliate.

Hubbell is scheduled to be released later this month from a federal prison in Cumberland, Md., where he has served most of a 21-month sentence.

Pub Date: 11/05/96

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