Gore to the Fore

Landow Lurks in Background

With the lame-duck president ready to be stuffed into the dustbin of history, Democratic operatives are contemplating how to keep Al Gore out of the clutches of Ken Starr.

While Starr probably wouldn't prosecute a sitting president, he could still indict Clinton underlings and name the president an unindicted coconspirator. That would keep Clinton on the hot seat for years. Starr's three most likely targets are Vernon Jordan, Sidney Blumenthal, and Betty Currie.

Also possible is some sort of legal action against Maryland developer and longtime Democratic fundraiser Nathan Landow, who was called before a Starr grand jury for allegedly pressuring Kathleen Willey— the volunteer who claimed Clinton touched her breast in a White House corridor. Landow, who has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, took the fifth when called before a grand jury. ABC recently reported that Landau's lawyer hired a private detective to investigate Willey.

An indictment of Landow could seriously jeopardize Gore because Landow is not just another Democratic moneybags. He is Gore's moneybags— the man who, after watching Walter Mondale's trouncing at the hands of Ronald Reagan in 1984, put together a group to promote the then little known Tennessee politician as a fresh face for the Democratic center.

The Clinton legal team kept Willey and Landow from figuring in the Senate show trial. However, the prospect of court testimony on the Willey matter has to be one of the reasons Janet Reno is now investigating Starr with the possibility of perhaps shutting him down for good.


Hill of Beans
First Lady Would Be Fat Target in N.Y. Race

The Hillary boomlet for a Senate seat in New York can't last. The First Lady's got too much baggage and could be a serious drag on Al Gore if she carpetbags her way into the Big Apple to run for Pat Moynihan's slot.

In addition to the fact that Giuliani would likely pull votes in numbers that few Republicans could in New York City, Hillary would become target #1 for the national GOP.

Beyond that, Hillary's remark last year that Palestine should be an independent state would be certain to hurt her among New York's large bloc of Jewish voters. Giuliani won't miss a beat playing hardball with the issue, and solid feminist support won't be enough to stop it.

Then there is the continuing Starr prosecution of Webb Hubbell, close Clinton friend and former number three in the Justice Department. One of two cases Starr is pursuing against Hubbell involves tax fraud; the other, alleged lying to Congress and federal regulators about legal work Hubbell and Hillary did for Jim McDougal's Madison s&l in the '80s. Starr is investigating Hubbell for allegedly covering up involvement by the Rose Law Firm in a phony land deal, which led to the failure of Madison. As The Washington Postreported last week, Hillary's legal work for Madison is certain to be an issue in a Hubbell trial.

Even on the environment, one issue Gore can rightfully claim as his own, there is possible trouble for Hillary. The Clintons already have embarrassed Gore on this score, with the president dragging him into a flip-flop on incineration. During the 1992 campaign, Clinton/Gore promised to halt the incineration of hazardous wastes— which can lead to potentially toxic pollution. Following the election, however, nothing was done.

Some observers noted that it had been revealed during the campaign that Hillary was one of five American directors of the huge French Lafarge cement company, which burns hazardous waste in the U.S. as part of its manufacture of construction materials. Hillary— who resigned during the campaign— claimed that "burning hazardous waste under the strict controls used by Lafarge converts the hazardous wastes to nonhazardous materials."

In Clinton's first term, there was, of course, the First Lady's bungled handling of health insurance reform. At the time, health-care activists were taken aback by her arrogance coupled with an utter lack of knowledge of the subject.

Finally, Hillary was involved in widely publicized commodity trading during the late 1970s in which she scored a $100,000 profit over a period of about two years.

Any mix of the above could be fine-tuned into a vicious attack campaign by a master of the genre, Rudy Giuliani.


Colonial Revolt
Suing for Status in Washington, D.C.

With the nation's capital still reeling from 12 years of Marion Barry's rule and tightly constrained by a fiscal control board, the future of this colony seems to be more than ever in the hands of its harsh proconsuls in Congress and the business elite, who have always run it.

However, out of nowhere comes a well-placed legal bullet that might succeed where decades of squabbling over home rule have failed. It is a little-noticed lawsuit, Twenty Citizens v. Clinton, filed in federal district court under the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution. The plaintiffs range from a longtime activist, to a journalist, to a man living in a homeless shelter, to a PR woman. They challenge their voteless status on grounds that District citizens have a right, in the Constitution's words, to a "republican form of government." The suit likens their status to people living in so-called "federal enclaves."

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