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Justice Review Finds Inmate Unfairly Disciplined After Quayle Allegation

September 11, 1993

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Justice Department’s inspector general concluded that federal prison officials unfairly disciplined an inmate during the 1988 presidential campaign for spreading allegations that he once sold marijuana to Dan Quayle.

Inmate Brett C. Kimberlin ″was treated differently and held to a stricter standard of conduct... as a result of his contacts with the press to promote his allegations,″ said the report by the department’s inspector general, Richard J. Hankinson.

But Hankinson said there was no ″conspiracy to silence″ Kimberlin when Quayle was running for vice president.

The report was obtained by The Associated Press under the Freedom of Information Act.

The Bureau of Prison’s ″disparate treatment″ of Kimberlin took place because ″traditional BOP methods of resolving problems associated with inmate conduct and with press contacts were not followed,″ Hankinson said.

He concluded that officials at the Federal Correctional Institution in El Reno, Okla., who put Kimberlin in special lock-down cell just before the 1988 election were reacting to the extraordinary intervention of then-Bureau of Prisons’ director J. Michael Quinlan.

Quinlan had canceled a Nov. 4, 1988 prison press conference at which Kimberlin planned to make public his allegation about Quayle. Quinlan also ordered Kimberlin placed in a special detention cell that night.

″Director Quinlan’s personal involvement in overriding the decision of a local warden in this circumstance was quite unusual,″ the report found.

Kimberlin claimed he sold marijuana to Quayle years ago when the former vice president was a law school student. Quayle has denied the allegation. And the Drug Enforcement Administration investigated Kimberlin’s claim and concluded it was false.

The investigation was sought by Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., who said in an Oct. 2 report that the Bureau of Prisons’ actions were politically motivated.

But Hankinson’s report said: ″There is no evidence to support the allegations that political forces or persons outside the Bureau of Prisons influenced the decision to either grant or subsequently deny Mr. Kimberlin access to the press.″

Quinlan told investigators that he did not have any contact with Bush- Quayle campaign officials at the time.

Levin called the report by Hankinson, a holdover appointee of President Bush, ″a major disappointment″ and said it ″avoids any criticisms of actions taken in this matter despite the report’s admission that the actions were ’unusual.‴

Quinlan retired last year as prisons director, citing health reasons. He declined to comment Friday on the report.

Kimberlin, who is serving 51 years for convictions including drug conspiracy and eight Indiana bombings, has been in jail since 1980. He also has sued the Bureau of Prisons, accusing prison authorities of violating his constitutional rights.

The controversy began when Quinlan canceled the Nov. 4, 1988 meeting Kimberlin had scheduled with reporters at the Oklahoma prison, citing safety reasons.

Quinlan told investigators he was concerned that Kimberlin would become ″a big wheel″ if inmates learned he was holding press conferences, the report said.

Hankinson concluded that Quinlan made no attempt to determine if prison officials had properly assessed the safety issue when they set up the interview.

On Nov. 7, the day before the election, Kimberlin was again placed in special detention because he tried to set up a telephone conference call with reporters in Washington.

He was disciplined again on Dec. 22 for attempting to contact reporters again, the Justice report said.

In both instances, Kimberlin was disciplined for technical violations of rules governing telephone use by inmates, the report said. By seeking media attention, Kimberlin ″risked and received closer scrutiny″ by prison authorities, the report said.

″We believe it fair to surmise that in taking some of the actions they did, some FCI El Reno staff reacted more to what they perceived to be headquarters desires rather than local interpretation of existing policy,″ the report said.

″We are pleased that the review of the facts of the case had proven there was no evidence to support the allegations″ of political interference, said Dan Dunne, a spokesman for the Bureau of Prisons.

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