Starr Advised Jones Lawyers in 1994
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) _ Kenneth Starr’s 1994 advice to attorneys for Paula Jones could fuel questions about his motives now that his investigation of the Clintons has become intertwined with her sexual harassment suit, legal experts said Wednesday.
Before he became Whitewater prosecutor, Starr offered the Jones legal team advice on ``the legal question of whether the president is accountable in a private lawsuit,″ according to Gilbert K. Davis, who no longer represents Mrs. Jones. Starr was named Whitewater special prosecutor three months after his May 1994 contact with the Jones lawyers.
Starr also considered filing a ``friend of the court″ brief against Clinton on behalf of a women’s group that he represented for free before he joined the Whitewater investigation. The organization decided not to pursue the brief, said Anita Blair, the group’s founder.
Legal experts say Starr’s work on the Jones matter was not improper but could become an issue for his critics.
His investigation of the Whitewater land deal has been expanded to include allegations that Clinton had an affair with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky and urged her to lie about it.
Starr already has come under criticism from Hillary Rodham Clinton and others who have questioned his motives.
Mrs. Clinton complained Tuesday of a ``politically motivated prosecutor who is allied with the right-wing opponents of my husband who has literally spent four years looking at every telephone call ... we’ve made, every check we’ve ever written, scratching for dirt, intimidating witnesses, doing everything possible to try to make some accusation against my husband.″
Starr spokeswoman Debbie Gershman had no comment on Wednesday; Starr himself has called Mrs. Clinton’s talk of a conspiracy ``nonsense.″
John Douglass, a former federal prosecutor who was an on the Iran-Contra investigation case, said some will point to Starr’s work on the Jones case as evidence of a conspiracy.
``What’s ... troubling is why he was representing the women’s organization in that regard _ and doing it without pay,″ said John Douglass, now an assistant professor of law at the University of Richmond in Virginia.
``If he or his law firm had an interest in promoting that point of view, the next question is `Why?′ Do they have an interest in presidential immunity, or is it because they are conservative Republicans and they like to see Clinton harassed?
``There are those who will be troubled by the latter,″ Douglass said.
Michael Johnston, professor of political science at Colgate University in Hamilton, N.Y. , said of Starr: ``Given his background before he was appointed, I think he is much more of a political figure than he would admit.″
Starr said last year he would quit as special prosecutor to take a Pepperdine University position funded by a conservative foundation. A federal judge at Little Rock, acting on a complaint, wanted to explore whether Starr had a conflict but could not convince enough of his colleagues to agree.
``Although the court would need more factual information to conclude that an actual conflict of interest exists, it is difficult to argue that Mr. Starr is not laboring under at least an appearance of conflict,″ senior U.S. District Judge G. Thomas Eisele wrote last summer.