Several individuals involved in a clandestine anti-Clinton campaign funded by conservative billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife played a previously undisclosed, behind-the-scenes role in bolstering the legal efforts of Paula Corbin Jones during a period when her sexual harassment lawsuit against President Clinton was in danger of foundering.
On Wednesday, a federal judge threw out all of the charges in the Jones lawsuit, possibly ending a four-year legal and political drama that has entangled the Clinton presidency and riveted the country's attention.
The assistance from the Scaife associates came in spring 1994, a crucial juncture in Jones' legal battle. The statute of limitations on Jones filing a lawsuit was rapidly approaching and she did not have adequate legal counsel to pursue her claim.
The critical assistance was provided by Stephen S. Boynton, a conservative Virginia attorney with long-standing ties to Scaife; David Henderson, a vice president of the American Spectator Educational Foundation, which owns the magazine of the same name; Richard Larry, president of the Sarah Scaife Foundation; and Parker Dozhier, an Arkansas sportsman and bait shop owner who has acknowledged being the "eyes and ears" on Whitewater-related matters for the American Spectator.
All four individuals were involved with the Arkansas Project, a three-year, $2.4 million campaign to investigate and discredit President Clinton that was covertly funded by Scaife. Later, the Landmark Legal Foundation, a conservative activist group that also receives substantial funding from Scaife, played another key behind-the-scenes role in support of Jones' legal effort.
The efforts on behalf of Jones began in the spring of 1994, according to Dozhier's former live-in girlfriend Caryn Mann, her 17-year-old son Joshua Rand and a third source. At the time, Jones was being represented by Little Rock, Ark., attorney Daniel Traylor, a solo practitioner who specialized in real estate work. Traylor had come to believe that he did not have the necessary resources or experience to pursue the case on his own. Moreover, Jones' suit was in danger of expiring because the statute of limitations on her claim was due to run out on May 8 of that year. The race to find experienced litigators, with financial backing behind them, was on.
Both Mann and Rand told Salon that in the early spring of 1994, Dozhier told them of a fishing trip that he took on Chesapeake Bay with Boynton, Henderson and Larry. The four men had heard about Traylor's and Jones' predicament.
"From the boat, they were calling around, calling everybody they could think of, trying to find her a lawyer," recalled Mann. "They said that they wore out the batteries on six cell phones trying to find someone. Later, [Dozhier] would make jokes that they had all gone on this fishing trip but they never did any fishing."
According to Rand, Dozhier kept a group photo of himself, Boynton, Henderson and Larry together on the boat, which he tacked to a corkboard posted on the inside of the front door of his bait shop.
"He was very proud of the picture," said Mann. "He liked to tell the story over and over again. Then one day he just took the picture down. And he told me not to talk about it anymore."
Boynton and Henderson, in brief telephone interviews, declined to comment. Larry did not return repeated phone calls. Dozhier denied any role in the Jones case.
In a 1997 interview, Traylor said that he did not know Boynton, Henderson or Dozhier. On Saturday, Traylor said in a brief telephone conversation that he could not comment because of "attorney-client privilege."
Two sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, described additional efforts by Boynton and Henderson on behalf of the Jones legal effort. One source with first-hand knowledge of the events retained contemporaneous notes, and provided them to Salon.
These sources told Salon that in spring 1994 -- apparently after the fishing trip -- Boynton and Henderson conferred with officials of the Landmark Legal Foundation about finding additional legal counsel for Jones.
Between 1992 and 1996, the Landmark Legal Foundation received at least $650,000 from various foundations controlled by Scaife, according to documents and sources. Top officials of Landmark, which has offices in Herndon, Va., and Kansas City, Mo., have been fierce critics of the president.
Two sources say that Landmark lawyers advised Jones and Traylor not to sue the American Spectator for defamation or libel for having published the article that first mentioned a woman identified only as "Paula" who told an Arkansas state trooper that "she was available to be Clinton's regular girlfriend if he so desired." The Landmark lawyers' advice was hardly disinterested: Richard Mellon Scaife had been a major benefactor over the years of the American Spectator.
Eric Christensen, the Landmark Legal Foundation's vice president for development and communications, said his organization would have no comment. "We will not cooperate in any way with anything you write," he said, "because you are a dishonest reporter."
In interviews in 1996, and 1997, Traylor confirmed that he had several contacts with Landmark, but refused to provide any details of his discussions with those at the group.
According to two sources, with the deadline for filing a sexual harassment suit against the president quickly approaching -- and the announcement that famed white-collar defense attorney Robert S. Bennett would defend Clinton -- Landmark assisted the hunt to find top-flight counsel for Jones.
Two sources say that Landmark was instrumental in locating two experienced attorneys, Gilbert K. Davis and Joseph L. Cammarata, who agreed to take the case. Cammarata and Davis filed Jones' suit on May 6, 1994, two days short of the filing deadline. Traylor stayed on for a while in a lesser role as local Arkansas counsel in the case before dropping out all together.
Davis is a former assistant U.S. attorney in Virginia, and Cammarata had been an attorney for four years with the Justice Department's tax division. (In September 1997, both Davis and Cammarata withdrew as counsel in the Jones case. Jones' current attorney, Donovan Campbell, did not return calls seeking comment for this story.)
How Davis and Cammarata came to represent Jones has largely been a mystery.
Asked in a 1996 interview how Davis and Cammarata got involved with the case, Traylor said, "I really don't know. They contacted me, not the other way around. I don't know what prompted that."
Davis and Cammarata, in turn, have suggested in various media interviews that it was Traylor who first contacted them. Various press accounts of the Jones case have only raised more questions than they answered.
For example, an article by Stuart Taylor Jr. that appeared in the American Lawyer magazine in November 1996 reported that "the conservative legal grapevine put Traylor in touch with [the] two self-described 'country lawyers.'"
And a June 24, 1994, Washington Post profile of Davis and Cammarata only seemed to confuse the matter even further. "Many of Davis' cases are personal-injury matters," noted the Post article, "which leads to the question: How did Gil Davis end up representing a secretary from Arkansas in a suit filed in the federal courthouse in Little Rock just days before the deadline imposed by the statute of limitations?
"Davis says no conservative group approached him. But his explanation of how he got the case -- through a 'friend' who very coincidentally happened to be in his office and mentioned it -- has led to all manner of speculation about whether Davis or ... Cammarata had secret connections to the religious right or other Clinton foes.
"Pressed on this point, Davis is vague. 'Either Joe Cammarata or I made or received a call from Mr. Traylor,' he says. 'I have a feeling that Mr. Traylor heard about our names before. But I don't know that to be the case.'"
The two sources say that Landmark counseled those knowledgeable about its role in helping find Davis and Cammarata to keep the information confidential, fearing that the organization's ties with Scaife would be used to discredit Jones' case.
In an interview earlier this week, Davis said, "Landmark did not bring me into this case -- it was someone else who brought me in, it was a client."
Davis acknowledged that he did have discussions about the Jones case with Landmark officials, but he declined to discuss any specifics, citing attorney-client privilege. Davis added that if Landmark officials were to approve, he could discuss his contacts with them further.
Landmark is not the only Scaife-connected organization that has come to Jones' support. Salon recently revealed that an obscure nonprofit organization headed by a Washington tax lawyer with close ties to Scaife made a secret $50,000 contribution to Jones' legal defense fund.
The secret Sept. 14, 1995, contribution to Jones' legal war chest was made by the Washington D.C.-based Fund for a Living American Government, or FLAG. The contribution was described by sources who reviewed financial records documenting the contribution.
William Lehrfeld, FLAG's executive director, refused to confirm or deny that his group made any contributions to the Jones legal fund. The origin of FLAG's $50,000 contribution remains unknown.
In a brief telephone interview, Davis said that he and Cammarata were not aware of the identities of contributors to the Paula Jones Legal Fund: "Our view was that we did not want to know. We didn't want any appearance that we were under the control of any contributor."
At the time that Lehrfeld's group made the $50,000 contribution to the Jones legal fund, he served as the primary legal counsel to the Scaife-funded Arkansas Project, according to documents and sources. Lehrfeld, a legal expert in the area of tax-exempt organizations, also has served as counsel to the Sarah Scaife Foundation, which Richard Mellon Scaife has used to fund numerous conservative causes, including the American Spectator.
The Arkansas Project was covertly funded through the Sarah Scaife Foundation and a second tax-exempt foundation controlled by Richard Mellon Scaife. These foundations transferred as much as $800,000 a year to the American Spectator Educational Fund, which in turn passed almost all of the funds to Boynton. The Virginia attorney then made payments to others involved in the clandestine effort, including Dozhier.
Jones' current attorney, Campbell, and her spokeswoman, Susan Carpenter-McMillan, have repeatedly declined to answer questions about the identities of contributors to the Paula Jones Legal Fund.
Cindy Hays, the former director of the Paula Jones Legal Fund, also refused to comment, referring a reporter to an affidavit she entered into evidence in federal court in the Jones case.
In the Oct. 9, 1997, sworn affidavit, Hays stated, "The release of information regarding the confidential donors to the Paula Jones Legal Fund can reasonably be expected to lead to reprisals against those individuals."
Hays said the basis for making that claim was her own personal experience raising funds for Jones: "[I] have been terrorized in Washington, D.C., by someone or a group of individuals who have broken into my offices, breached my security systems, broken into and wiretapped my telephone and computer modem lines [and] stolen files from my office."
Hays also claimed that an anonymous "caller would play 'Frere Jacque' [sic] (a French song, 'Brother John Are You Sleeping') on the key pad."
Eventually, Hays asserted, she contacted the U.S. attorney's office in Washington, D.C., but found little relief: "On or about July 15, 1997, my staff was speaking with an assistant U.S. attorney [when] that phone call was intercepted and 'Frere Jacque' [sic] was played [again]."
As a result, Hays asserted in the affidavit, three FBI agents, the FBI computer crime squad and the telephone company were called in to investigate. But none of them, Hays said, could get to the bottom of the mystery.
Murray Waas is a frequent contributor to Salon. MORE FROM Murray Waas
COMPLETELY AD FREE,
FOR THE NEXT HOUR
Read Now, Pay Later - no upfront
registration for 1-Hour Access
7-Day Access and Monthly
Subscriptions also available
No tracking or personal data collection
beyond name and email address