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Independent prosecutor Kenneth W. Starr is trying to determine whether people with White House ties are spreading misinformation about him and his staff. (By Larry Morris – The Washington Post)

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Starr Subpoenas Tabloid's Private Investigators

By Lorraine Adams and Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, February 28, 1998; Page A01

Independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr has subpoenaed two Arkansas private investigators whom the National Enquirer said yesterday it dispatched in 1996 to check out rumors that Starr was having an extramarital affair.

One of the investigators took photographs outside the home of a prominent Arkansas heiress rumored to be involved with Starr, but the tabloid "came up dry," according to Steve Coz, editor of the Enquirer, and never published anything on the allegations.

The subpoenas, first reported yesterday in USA Today, are the latest effort by Starr's office to determine whether people with connections to the White House have been spreading misinformation about him and his staff. The surveillance by the investigators took place in late 1996, more than a year before Starr began investigating President Clinton's relationship with former White House intern Monica S. Lewinsky. It was unclear yesterday whether Starr knew the investigators had been hired by the tabloid when he issued the subpoenas.

Sidney Blumenthal, a White House aide who has acknowledged telling reporters about previously published information on two Starr deputies, and Terry F. Lenzner, a private investigator retained by Clinton's attorneys in the Whitewater case, were subpoenaed last week and this week appeared before the D.C. grand jury that is investigating the Lewinsky matter.

Vernon E. Jordan Jr., a Washington lawyer and Clinton confidant, is slated to appear before the grand jury Tuesday. Starr's office is investigating whether Jordan was part of an effort by Clinton to keep Lewinsky from revealing a sexual relationship with the president. Jordan has acknowledged finding Lewinsky a lawyer and helping her find a job in New York, but has said both she and Clinton told him there was no sexual relationship between them.

Jordan's grand jury appearance will take place two weeks after it was originally scheduled. That appearance and an earlier interview with investigators for Starr's office were abruptly canceled without explanation. Jordan's lawyer, William G. Hundley, said yesterday he has been assured that this time Jordan will be called as planned.

Coz said yesterday that the White House had nothing to do with the National Enquirer's reporting into Starr's personal life, and would not say who passed on the allegation to the tabloid. "We don't reveal our sources, period," he said.

O.H. "Bill" Mullenax, a former Arkansas state trooper who is now a private investigator in Little Rock, confirmed that he received a subpoena two days ago to appear before a federal grand jury in Little Rock. Also subpoenaed was Tommy Goodwin, a vice president of Mullenax's company, Mid-South Safety Council Inc.

Neither man knew he was working for the Enquirer. Coz confirmed that his newspaper had hired Matrix Group, an investigative firm based in Grand Rapids, and Matrix, in turn, hired Mullenax. Mullenax said yesterday that Ron Mattioli, a Matrix official, simply told him that he was to take photographs of the Little Rock home of Jane Hunt Hardin, the wealthy daughter of trucking company founder J.B. Hunt, as well as any cars parked out front.

Mullenax said he was never told he was looking into an alleged relationship between Jane Hunt Hardin and Starr. "I get requests from companies all over the country to do work. I checked [Matrix] out and it was legit," Mullenax said.

Jane Hardin was then engaged to Bill Hardin, an FBI agent detailed to Starr's office in Little Rock. Her fiance discovered Mullenax taking photographs outside the house and asked Mullenax to leave.

"He became very upset. He knew me. I knew him. He lunged into the back of my car," Mullenax said.

Tom Mars, an attorney for the Hardins, said his clients are extremely upset by the incident, and by rumors, which Mars believes have been spread by White House officials, that linked Jane Hunt Hardin to Starr.

"Mrs. Hardin adamantly and unequivocally states that she has never met Mr. Starr, that she has never spoken to him in person or by telephone, and that she has never had any kind of relationship with him whatsoever," Mars said. He said his clients have not been subpoenaed by Starr.

"The people who have been originating and spreading these outrageous and malicious false rumors should be punished," Mars said. "We intend to get to the bottom of this, and to put a stop to it. We don't believe that the National Enquirer has ever had any interest in the personal life of Bill or Jane Hardin. There was certainly no reason for that organization to have any interest in them."

Bill Hardin worked for Starr's predecessor, Robert B. Fiske Jr., and he remained at the independent counsel's office for only 30 days after Starr took over, Mars said. Hardin is now retired from the FBI.

Presidential spokesman Jim Kennedy repeated the administration's contention that no one acting on behalf of the White House or the president's lawyers has been investigating the personal lives of prosecutors. "That would certainly apply to this episode," he said. "It certainly was a surprise to everyone I spoke to."

Both investigators knew Clinton when he was Arkansas governor. Mullenax was in charge of the capitol security detail that provided protection to Clinton dating back to his days as state attorney general. Goodwin headed the Arkansas state police for 14 years, including while Clinton was governor.

Mullenax denied that the White House had any role in his hiring. Goodwin, who is recovering from colon cancer, did not return calls seeking comment.

David Kendall, Clinton's personal lawyer, has also represented the National Enquirer. But Coz said he had not discussed the tabloid's inquiry into Starr. "David's a friend. We talk all the time," Coz said. "But as far as anything involving the White House, there's a huge chasm in the sand."

Asked yesterday if he was asked to investigate Hardin's relationship with Starr, Mattioli replied: "I don't know. I don't know a Ken Starr." Asked whether the White House had asked the Enquirer to collect information on Jane Hunt Hardin, he said: "I know of nothing. All I know is I hired a guy to do a job in Arkansas, and he did it."

Adams reported from Little Rock, Kurtz from Washington.


© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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