By David Segal
Scaife gave Judicial Watch $550,000, according to documents disclosed by the Carthage Foundation, one of four philanthropies underwritten by Scaife. That sum is nearly nine times as large as the $60,000 in outside contributions Judicial Watch said it received in 1996.
"It's a minority of our support and we're very proud to receive it," Judicial Watch founder and president Larry Klayman said yesterday before refusing further comment. In a recent interview, Klayman would not confirm the Scaife grant and deflected financing questions by saying, "Basta! . . . that means 'stop it' in Italian."
Scaife's foundations last year gave away a total of $25 million to conservative groups as well as academic institutions such as Boston University and Carnegie Mellon University. The scion of the Mellon banking family, Scaife has become a major financial resource for those eager to probe Clinton administration controversies, from the Monica S. Lewinsky case to the death of White House deputy counsel Vincent W. Foster.
Independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr had once planned to accept a Scaife foundation-financed deanship at Pepperdine University, leading Clinton allies to criticize the prosecutor's conservative movement ties.
The recipient of the largest single Scaife grant last year -- for $1.5 million -- was the the Free Congress Research and Education Foundation Inc., a think tank run by conservative activist Paul Weyrich. Free Congress is part owner of America's Voice, a TV network formerly known as National Empowerment Television.
The American Spectator magazine took in nearly $1 million last year from two Scaife foundations -- Carthage and the Sarah Scaife Foundation. Part of that money paid for the so-called "Arkansas Project," an investigation of alleged Clinton skulduggery in his home state. The project was criticized by several Spectator staffers and has given rise to an investigation into whether some Scaife money improperly went to pay a key Starr witness.
But the financial relationship between the magazine and Scaife's foundations is over. "Let's just say that the Spectator had Scaife foundation money in the past [but] they decided to quit contributing this year," said publisher Terry Eastland.
The Landmark Legal Foundation, a Herndon group that has pounded Pentagon officials for allegedly leaking data from Linda R. Tripp's personnel file, took in $525,000 from Scaife. "We have a hard and fast rule here," said Landmark president Mark Levin. "We don't accept money laundered through Indian tribes or Buddhist nuns."
The award to Judicial Watch is in some ways the most notable of the Scaife grants, representing a huge financial boon for a group that barely registered on Washington's radar screen until recently. In 1996, the group's largest benefactor was Klayman himself, a formerly obscure international trade attorney; he kicked in about $110,000 of his own money and took in just $60,000 in outside contributions.
Scaife foundation officials did not return calls about why they decided to start giving to Judicial Watch.
Klayman is deposing witnesses for three lawsuits against the Commerce Department and one against the Justice Department, among others, and he represents Republicans whose FBI files were obtained by White House officials.
© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company