Wednesday, December 12, 2001
Lawsuit Against Clintons Dismissed After Plaintiff Ruled a Fugitive
By KIMBERLY EDDS, Staff Writer
A suit alleging that former President Bill Clinton, U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, and two associates conspired to undermine campaign finance laws was dismissed by a Los Angeles Superior Court judge yesterday on the ground that the plaintiff is a fugitive from justice.
Peter F. Paul, a businessman and former associate of comic book illustrator Stan Lee, claimed he contributed $2 million to Hillary Clinton’s successful Senate campaign in New York last year, but that the contributions were never reported. He alleged that he was encouraged to make the donations by promises of a future business relationship with Bill Clinton, which never materialized.
Superior Court Judge Aurelio Munoz ruled that Paul, who is currently in the custody of the Brazilian government, is barred from bringing the suit under the fugitive dis-entitlement doctrine, which prevents U.S. fugitives from using the court system for their benefit.
Paul is currently under indictment on charges of bank fraud and manipulating the stock of now-bankrupt Stan Lee Media, Inc.
“[Paul] is abating the judicial system in the U.S. and he should not be allowed to use the court for his benefit from this frivolous lawsuit,” Stephen Kaufman, an attorney for defendant and Hillary Clinton fundraiser David Rosen, said.
Paul is represented by Larry G. Klayman and Sterling E. Norris of Judicial Watch, a conservative legal organization that has filed numerous suits against the Clintons and their associates.
Klayman disagreed that Paul is a fugitive from U.S. justice and argued he is being held at the request of the U.S. Justice Department, which he said issued an international arrest warrant that allowed the Brazilian government to take him into custody.
Klayman told the court that Paul does want to return to the U.S. and he has been cooperating with the U.S. Justice Department, but fears for his life.
“His life has been threatened,” Klayman said.
Kaufman, of the Los Angeles firm Smith Kaufman, argued that Paul is a willing fugitive fleeing from the U.S. law and not in U.S. custody.
“Mr. Paul is sitting in a Brazilian jail in the custody of the Brazilian government,” Kaufman said.
“If he wasn’t fighting extradition, he would be in the U.S.,” he said.
Munoz agreed that since Paul is in the custody of Brazilian, and not U.S., officials he is still a fugitive and barred from using the court system.
Klayman said Munoz’s decision is merely delaying the suit since Paul can bring the action once he returns to the U.S.
“We’re not that troubled by the decision,” Klayman said.
Paul, who has been in Brazilian custody for the past five months, is expected to be extradited in the next six months to a year, Klayman said.
In addition to pursuing the suit when Paul returns to the U.S., Klayman said he also plans to appeal Munoz’s ruling.
Hillary Clinton, Rosen, and Aaron Token, the producer of a Hollywood fundraising event that Paul claimed to have underwritten, have demurred to the complaint. They argue that the allegations, even if true, aren’t valid claims, and that even if they were, the suit is preempted by federal election laws.
Paul has been providing information on Hillary Clinton to the U.S. Justice Department, and charges against her could be filed, Klayman said.
“Mrs. Clinton is not out of the woods yet,” Klayman said. “We’ll pursue her till the end of time on this.”
Copyright 2001, Metropolitan News Company