Tags: Democrats: | Olson | Might | 'Disqualified'

Democrats: Olson Might be 'Disqualified'

Tuesday, 22 May 2001 12:00 AM

In a letter to every senator, the Democrats warned that Olson should be disqualified from the post if the investigation shows Olson has concealed activity in "The Arkansas Project," because the Justice Department post requires, "absolute integrity and a thoroughly scrupulous regard for the complete truth."

Republicans have asked Democrats not to seek a political pound of flesh for years of investigating alleged Clinton scandals. "We have seen too much personal destruction," Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch told Democrats last week. "And I plea with my colleagues not to allow another incredibly accomplished person be turned into a one-dimensional caricature."

Led by Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., the Democrats' letter slams "irresponsible, unfounded and often scurrilous charges" leveled by conservative groups against Clinton during years of scandal hunts.

"Despite this complete absence of evidence, extreme conservatives, such as the American Spectator, continued to make false accusations and we as Members of Congress were required to spend considerable amounts of time in the process of refuting them," the letter says.

The Arkansas Project was an effort - underwritten to the tune of several million dollars by foundations under the control of millionaire Richard Mellon Scaife - to unearth damaging information about the Clintons and their associates in their home state of Arkansas, and publish it in American Spectator magazine.

Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., said Monday he would not immediately overrule a split Judiciary Committee vote on the nomination and will instead allow the committee to stage an investigation into possible ties between Olson and the Arkansas Project.

Republicans said they might even let the Judiciary Committee vote again on the nomination before resorting to aggressive parliamentary tactics to overrule them - a scenario which would almost certainly lead to a nasty fight on the Senate floor.

Staff conducting the investigation would not comment on their activities. But in correspondence with committee Chairman Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, committee Ranking Member Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., has said that the investigation should include billing records to show what work Olson might have performed for the American Spectator Educational Foundation, an audit into the project the foundation board had carried out, and documents held by the Whitewater Independent Counsel's office Democrats said might cast light on the relationship between Olson and the project.

But American Spectator founder R. Emmett Tyrell told United Press International the magazine would not honor Leahy's requests to the magazine. "He is getting nothing from me that is in any way covered by the First Amendment. If he wants to butt his head up against granite, he has picked the right person," Tyrell said.

Last month, committee Ranking Member Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., wrote to the American Spectator, asking for copies of the audit into the project that its board had carried out

Now Republicans say they will help him get some of the information he is looking for, in the hope that it will enable them to move the nomination forward without a vicious partisan battle on the floor of the chamber.

"We started working last week in a bipartisan way to have more information available," Lott said. "I hope that in a couple of days, with that information available ... the Democrats who voted against him and those that might have some concerns might be ready to move forward with it."

The Senate Judiciary Committee deadlocked in a tie vote on the Olson nomination last week, when all nine Democrats voted against Olson because of concerns that he might not have been candid with the committee about his possible ties to the project.

Democrats have said, for example, that Olson initially told the panel he was not "involved in the project in its origin or its management," but found out about it only as a member of the board of directors of the American Spectator Educational Foundation, which owns and runs the magazine.

But in later correspondence, Democrats said Olson conceded that he was further involved with the foundation not only as a member of the board, but also "as a lawyer" for the foundation. Democrats also charged that Olson has changed the chronology of when he learned about the project.

Republicans said that Olson has been candid and honest. Lott Monday said he would, if necessary, overrule the split committee vote and move the nomination to the Senate floor. "I could begin a process later on this week or when we return from Memorial Day [recess] to go through the discharge petition," Lott said. "I am not anxious to use that process. I'd like use to make sure that any questions that might exist have been answered and I believe they will be."

Copyright 2001 by United Press International. All rights reserved.

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In a letter to every senator, the Democrats warned that Olson should be disqualified from the post if the investigation shows Olson has concealed activity in The Arkansas Project, because the Justice Department post requires, absolute integrity and a thoroughly...
Tuesday, 22 May 2001 12:00 AM
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