Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, April 19, 1998; Page A01
HOT SPRINGS, Ark.It seems unlikely they could offer assistance to a president beset by a criminal investigation: an assistant manager for an Arkansas undertaker who dabbles in astrology, and her son, a 17-year-old college student grappling with freshman calculus.
But the pair -- Caryn Mann and her son, Joshua Rand -- threaten to damage independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr's four-year, $30 million Whitewater probe of President Clinton based on what they say happened in a rustic fishing camp and bait shop in the woods near here on remote Lake Catherine.
The mother and son assert that for two years the owner of the lakeside camp, Mann's then-boyfriend Parker Dozhier, and a group of other anti-Clinton conservatives financially supported one of Starr's key Whitewater witnesses against the president, Arkansas businessman David Hale. Hale also joined them in hatching various plots to discredit the president, Mann and Rand charge.
Hale denies taking money from the anti-Clinton forces, and Dozhier, 56, denies giving him any. Dozhier adds that his former girlfriend is an unstable New Age enthusiast whose statements should not be believed.
"You have to think about the credibility of this source, which is not good," Dozhier said. Responded Mann, "I just decided I had to tell the story of how these people were doing everything they could to try to bring down the president."
As improbable as it seems, this war of words between Mann and Dozhier has escalated into the latest controversy to arise from the Starr investigation. The White House and its allies have seized on the Mann allegations as confirmation of the "vast right-wing conspiracy" that Hillary Rodham Clinton asserts is behind the investigation of her husband. Conservatives have been just as quick to dismiss Mann, 48, as a kooky, Democratic-affiliated follower of the occult who embroiders her stories.
More than political advantage is at issue. Starr finds himself in the awkward position of determining how to investigate charges that could harm the credibility of one of his chief witnesses. And Clinton allies, eager to put the independent counsel on the defensive, assert that Starr cannot "credibly or appropriately" sort through Mann's allegations because of his links to the conservatives who figure in the tale -- most notably Richard Mellon Scaife, the conservative billionaire whose money is alleged to have gone to Hale and who was a benefactor of the academic post Starr said 14 months ago he would take when his investigation concluded.
No documentary evidence has emerged that Hale received any money. But a preliminary investigation of Mann's assertions by Arkansas-based FBI agents last month found them credible enough to refer to Washington.
In recent weeks Starr's office and the Justice Department have engaged in a public tug-of-war over which will investigate Mann's charges. Justice has left the matter to Starr, but not before telling him in unusually pointed language that he might have a conflict of interest. On Thursday Starr responded with a pointed comeback of his own, writing to Attorney General Janet Reno that if there's a conflict of interest, she's the one who has it -- since Hale was an FBI-guarded witness on the Justice Department's watch before Starr was appointed independent counsel.
Even if it's proved Hale took the money, as Mann and her son say, it doesn't mean Hale lied about Clinton. He first lodged his accusations -- that Clinton pressured him into making a fraudulent $300,000 loan to a former Clinton business partner -- before the alleged payments started. But the allegations against Hale could make him an ineffective witness, legal experts said, to say nothing of the suggestion they raise that Starr's probe is allied with the right wing.
Mann's account may be an imperfect test case for settling such a dispute. The story is messy in every way -- it is, after all, about a busted romance between a man and a woman who lived with her son in a trailer improbably set amid barrels of red worms, night crawlers, live crickets and other fish bait.
A Magazine's Mission
The story began in late 1993, with a well-financed fishing expedition of a kind. That's when Dave Henderson, a former Washington public relations executive and a board member of the foundation that runs the American Spectator magazine, read a Washington Post account of David Hale's accusations against Clinton. Henderson and Hale had known each other from the Jaycees decades before, and Henderson flew to Little Rock to persuade his old friend to talk to the magazine's reporters.
Their meeting was the start of the Spectator's "Arkansas Project," financed by Richard Mellon Scaife, a reclusive Pittsburgh publisher. The initiative's mission was to uncover misconduct by the Clintons in the state.
From 1993 to 1997, Scaife gave $1.8 million to the project, plus $600,000 to the Spectator for other anti-Clinton research. In the end, the project caused an internal rift at the magazine, which is now conducting an internal audit of how the money was spent.
Magazine officials say most of the project's funds were spent checking out leads about supposed Clinton financial impropriety. Magazine staff members also say the project looked into rumors that deputy White House counsel Vincent W. Foster Jr. was murdered and that Clinton was tied to drug dealing and homicides.
The magazine placed two conservative activists, who had known each other for decades from hunting on Maryland's Eastern Shore, in charge of the Arkansas Project: Henderson and attorney Steve Boynton. Together, they were paid $26,500 a month to gather information to be given to Spectator reporters.
Reporter James Ring Adams, who wrote some Spectator articles based in part on leads from the project, said some of its research was "excellent." But writer Daniel Wattenberg said the tips were "totally useless." Boynton and Henderson "would hint they were onto rich trails, but nothing materialized," Wattenberg said.
Boynton had an old friend from Arkansas who he thought could help on the project -- Parker Dozhier. The two had known each other from their shared interest in the animal fur trade, and Boynton had represented Dozhier in a 1990 lawsuit stemming from a flood that damaged Dozhier's property.
Although he worked out of the remote bait store he owns in the Ouachita Mountains, Dozhier knew his way around Arkansas -- he'd reported for a television station in Little Rock, done public relations for the Hot Springs racetrack, written on hunting and fishing, and been involved in various conservative causes, friends said.
Dozhier's suspicions about powerful people often centered on one person, said several people who know him: Clinton. "If he had a flat tire, he blamed Clinton," said one person who knows him. Added Wattenberg: "Dozhier was full of lurid, sensational tales" about Arkansas. "He had a very rich imagination . . . and a cloak-and-dagger style."
Dozhier became what he called the Arkansas Project's "eyes and ears" in the state. "I clipped everything [on Clinton] in the local papers, I monitored TV, I went to court to get documents," he said. "If they needed a bio sketch on somebody, I did it." From 1993 to 1997, he received $48,000 in Scaife funds as fees and expenses to keep track of information on the Clintons, said Terry Eastland, the Spectator's publisher.
Dozhier was a few months into this work when his father died in February 1994. The funeral was arranged by mortuary employee Caryn Mann. Within weeks she and Dozhier were dating, and soon she moved into the cluttered trailer behind his shop. Each morning at 6 a.m., Mann recalled, the fax machine in the trailer spewed out articles and memos about Clinton from Washington.
Dozhier's friends often came to visit, Mann said, and some stayed in a cabin he owned near his shop. One regular visitor, by her account, was Hale, who had known Dozhier since renting him a Little Rock apartment in the 1960s. From March to August 1994, when Hale was cooperating with then-Whitewater special prosecutor Robert B. Fiske Jr., Hale was accompanied by FBI agents everywhere he went because he feared for his security.
Dozhier said Hale, a former Little Rock municipal judge, visited him about a dozen times from 1994 to 1996, and stayed overnight only about six times, when he had appointments in Little Rock. But Mann said Hale, who lived for some of this period in Louisiana, visited Dozhier for several days at a time on dozens of occasions in those two years. Hale was there a total of several months staying in the cabin, she said.
Meanwhile, Hale was emerging as Clinton's key Whitewater accuser. In early 1994 he started providing information to Fiske and then did the same for Starr when he became independent counsel in August of that year.
As a witness who has offered what Starr called "substantial and ongoing" cooperation, Hale testified in numerous proceedings that then-Gov. Clinton in 1986 pressured Hale, then owner of a private lending firm, to make a fraudulent loan to then-Clinton business partner Susan McDougal. Clinton denied it. In 1996 Hale's testimony helped convict McDougal of illegally benefiting from the $300,000 loan. Her husband, James, and then-Arkansas Gov. Jim Guy Tucker (D) were convicted of conspiring to defraud the government in deals involving $3 million.
Hale, who was destitute for most of this period, pleaded guilty in March 1994 to two felony counts of defrauding the Small Business Administration. In February of this year he was released early from prison after serving 20 months.
Dozhier was secretive about his dealings with Hale, Mann said. "Parker told us we were never supposed to say Hale's name," Mann said. When she briefly sent her son to school out of state, Dozhier was "furious," Mann recalled. "He said Josh could talk about Hale and put us in great jeopardy," she said. Dozhier used to send her into town with $100 bills to break for Hale, Mann recalled. "I don't want somebody noticing David's face breaking large bills," she said Dozhier told her several times.
Mann said she has a vague memory of seeing Dozhier give Hale money once. But Rand said he saw Dozhier give Hale money every time he visited, in amounts ranging from $20 to several hundred dollars. Rand, who was 13 years old when he moved in with Dozhier, said he often fetched the cash for Dozhier from the register. Once, Hale asked Dozhier to pay a $240 utility bill from his Louisiana home, and Dozhier gave him that sum in cash plus about $40 more, Rand said. Rand estimated that over two years Dozhier paid Hale up to $5,000.
Spectator publisher Eastland said preliminary findings in an ongoing internal review of the project yield "no evidence of any money paid to Hale directly or indirectly by Dozhier or anyone else." He said the only magazine funds he knows went to Hale were $200 that the project's Henderson gave Hale in jail to place long-distance phone calls. But Eastland acknowledged no one working on the audit has interviewed Mann or Rand.
"Caryn didn't see money change hands because none changed hands, period," Dozhier said.
Mann and Rand say Dozhier helped Hale in other ways, too. Besides his rent-free stays in the cabin, Dozhier has acknowledged giving Hale use of his 1989 Dodge Aries -- Mann and Rand said the loan lasted two years. Mann said Dozhier asked her to add Hale's wife, Linda, as a listed driver on the car's insurance documents. Her car insurance papers from that time, authenticated by her insurance agent, show that the car was insured in her name, and lists her and Linda Hale as drivers.
The Arkansas Project's leaders -- Henderson and Boynton -- came to the lake for meetings with Hale and their local "eyes and ears." Dozhier has said they joined Hale and him at the lake only two or three times. But Mann said it was more often.
Mann said she heard them generally discussing Hale's case and his suspicions about Clinton. Then, she and Rand said, Dozhier, Hale and the Washingtonians would repair to the trailer with their briefcases for lengthy talks; she wasn't invited. Dozhier, Hale and Henderson denied they discussed sensitive information about Hale's case.
Rand took to spying on the men's meetings, inventing excuses such as needing to retrieve a dry T-shirt. When he entered the trailer, he said, they would fall silent and snap shut their briefcases. "They thought I was an idiot kid," Rand said. "I figured, if they could be secret agents, I could, too."
Dozhier mailed to reporters a steady stream of anonymous tips with information about Whitewater, Mann said. He used surgical gloves so no fingerprints would be left, she said, and signed the notes with women's names. The reporters were told to contact him by leaving classified ads in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Two Wall Street Journal reporters, Ellen Joan Pollock and Bruce Ingersoll, responded, Ingersoll said. They took out this classified ad: "Anne, we got your message. We'd love to hear from you, Bruce and Ellen." At the end was a phone number -- Pollock's. Dozhier denies sending such packages.
Hale discussed some confidential forays with Dozhier, Mann said. She said she heard them at least once discuss a Dozhier plan to plant a check or drugs in some car to somehow discredit Clinton. Dozhier denies ever making such a statement.
By 1996, the Mann-Dozhier romance was over. Just as they disagree on every point of Mann's accusations about Hale, the couple offer conflicting accounts of the breakup. Mann said she left Dozhier after mounting friction between Dozhier and the youth, and what mother and son said were Dozhier's threats against them. He denies making threats, and says he told her to leave because he found her to be unstable. "I begged her to get help," Dozhier said.
Attacks on Credibility
Mann's credibility, of course, is crucial in evaluating her statements. Dozhier, his friends and various conservative media outlets -- from the Weekly Standard to the Washington Times -- have suggested she's unreliable, a tarot card reader who once was a Democratic activist in Florida and who has made outrageous accusations against people in the past.
David Bowden, Hale's lawyer, wrote a letter to Reno denying Mann's allegations, and calling her "far from a credible person." Gary Heidt, a Dozhier friend who teaches biology at the University of Arkansas-Little Rock, said she once claimed to have the power to direct U.S. troop movements telepathically. She denies believing such things.
Henderson said that while bragging about knowing Mafia associates, she once said she knew where Jimmy Hoffa's body was buried -- Mann said she was joking about a Hoffa relative who once lived near her. "She wasn't joking," Henderson responded.
Conservatives also claim she's a Democratic operative. Mann acknowledges she became a delegate to the Florida state Democratic convention in 1992 but said she did so only to meet people and ended up souring on Clinton that year because of his alleged womanizing.
When she was with Dozhier, Mann sometimes expressed anger at Clinton as vehemently as her boyfriend did, Heidt said. "She just didn't like Clinton, period." he said.
Mann acknowledges that some news accounts have quoted her making more grandiose claims -- such as an article in the online magazine Salon that said the Spectator project may have paid Dozhier as much as $200,000. Mann said he could have been paid that much but acknowledges she doesn't know it. She attributes the imprecision to the sometimes disjointed fashion in which she gives her account. But she didn't vary her story in interviews with The Washington Post.
"I'm not an attorney," Mann said. "I spent more than a year trying to forget this, and now I'm trying to remember it."
In his letter to Reno, Bowden also called Rand "troubled." Dozhier alleges that the youth has been implicated in a number of crimes, including theft, and that his behavior was out of control. Rand and his mother deny it, saying his police record consists of his being found drinking beer at a skating rink and receiving a ticket for driving under the influence of alcohol. Besides attending college, he holds a job as a waiter in a restaurant in Bentonville, Ark., where he and his mother now live.
Mann said she came forward several weeks ago after hearing Hillary Clinton's comments about the "vast right-wing conspiracy." She first contacted a former neighbor of her parents -- Richard Kelley, the fourth husband of the president's late mother, Virginia Kelley. He referred her to some Little Rock Democratic activists, who in turn put her in touch with an Associated Press reporter, who broke her story March 5.
A few weeks later Dozhier told a Salon reporter that Rand was "destined to be a chalk outline somewhere." Dozhier has said it was simply a prediction given what he claims is the youth's past misbehavior. But the reporter thought it was a threat and passed it on to the FBI. Agents interviewed the mother and son about Dozhier's alleged threats, but they focused particularly on whether Dozhier paid Hale money and perhaps swayed his testimony.
A law enforcement source said the investigation, into possible witness-tampering, was quickly referred to Justice Department headquarters because of its sensitivity. On April 9 the department kicked the matter over to Starr, urging him to investigate Mann's charges.
Starr is still considering how to handle it. But Clinton's attorney, David E. Kendall, asserts Starr cannot "credibly or appropriately" investigate it because of conflicts of interest. Starr is invested in Hale as his key Whitewater witness, Kendall said in a letter to Starr. Kendall also noted Starr's connections to Scaife. Starr had planned to take a job as dean of the law school and the new public policy school at Los Angeles's Pepperdine University, which Scaife helped finance. On Thursday, Starr announced he won't take the dean's job, saying the "end [is] not yet in sight" for his independent counsel job.
Finally, Kendall cited Starr's close friendship with Spectator publisher Eastland and Theodore B. Olson, who has been Hale's lawyer and who is on the board of directors of the foundation that runs the magazine. Olson was on the board last year, when then-publisher Ronald Burr was fired after seeking an outside audit of the Arkansas Project. Olson and Burr declined to comment.
So out of this twisted-up tale of a love gone bad, a new Whitewater investigation is born. Ultimately, Mann's assertions may be found spurious, but at this point they cast doubt on Starr's investigation -- or at least degrade Hale's value as a witness.
"If Starr were to go to trial using Hale as a witness, Mann's assertions could be a nightmare for Starr and a dream for the defense," said John Q. Barrett, a St. John's Law School professor. "Defense attorneys could claim Hale has been doubly bought -- by Clinton's enemies, who it could be said scripted him, and by Starr, who helped him get out of jail. If Mann is credible, it could be a witness-killer."
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