The former wife of fugitive financier Marc Rich contributed about $400,000 to the Clinton presidential library, legal sources tell TIME. This revelation is likely to deepen suspicions of congressional investigators looking into the controversial pardon given to Rich by President Clinton that Denise Rich's financing of Clinton political and personal projects influenced his decision to give amnesty to her ex-husband.
The sources said Denise Rich gave money to the library after consulting with Beth Dozoretz, a close Clinton friend and major Democratic fund-raiser who discussed the pardon of Marc Rich with the President nine days before he granted it. The timing of the library contribution and its proximity to the pardon were not immediately obtainable.
Denise Rich's generosity aroused the suspicion of Republican investigators from the moment Clinton pardoned her ex-husband of 1983 charges that he evaded $48 million in taxes and engaged in illegal oil sales with Iran. She gave over $1 million to Democratic campaigns in the Clinton era and at least $70,000 to Hillary Clinton's U.S. Senate race as well as $10,000 to the President's legal defense fund.
Only her contribution to Clinton's library remained a secret. Officers of the $150 million project have refused to divulge their funding sources, but Denise Rich's lawyer, Carol Elder Bruce, fueled speculation when she told House investigators, as they recalled it, that her client gave an "enormous sum of money" to it. The GOP probers want to know if any of the funds originated with Marc Rich and asked Denise Rich to answer questions for a Government Reform Committee hearing Thursday.
She refused to respond, invoking her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Reached Thursday night, Bruce declined to comment on the library gift, but noted a statement by her client's publicist that said Bruce told House investigators that Rich had "contributed generously to the party, the candidates and the presidential library."
Dozoretz's name surfaced at the hearing in a Jan. 10 e-mail from a Marc Rich confidant in Switzerland to Jack Quinn, the former White House counsel who lobbied Clinton on the pardon. The message reports on a conversation with Denise Rich, who was visiting Aspen with Dozoretz, identified as "B" in the e-mail. "Her friend B... got a call from Potus who said he was impressed by [Quinn's] last letter and that he wants to do it and is doing all possible to turn around" the White House counsels, it said. Denise Rich, it went on, "thinks he sounded very positive but that we have to keep praying."
Dozoretz, who named Clinton a godfather to one of her children, could not be reached for comment. A source close to her confirmed the call from Clinton and said Dozoretz had raised the pardon issue with the President. The source insisted, however, that Clinton never told her he was trying to "turn around" his White House lawyers.
Clinton has insisted his decision was based on the merits of the case and not on any friendship with Denise Rich, who had written him asking for the pardon.