SOCI_108_LIDDICK_4

SOCI_108_LIDDICK_4 - 43 POLITICAL DEVIANCE: TWO CASE...

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Unformatted text preview: 43 POLITICAL DEVIANCE: TWO CASE STUDIES DON LIDDI CK The raising of campaign contributions in and around the 1996 elections involved a wide variety of crimes perhaps best described as organized criminality. Although typically framed by many politicians and pundits as relatively minor technical violations of statutes governing campaign finance, a close examination of the case studies provided in this article demonstrates that political fund-raisers committed a variety of more serious crimes and did so in a coordinated fashion. The purposes of the ar- ticle are (a) to describe two of the lesser known campaign fund-raising episodes associated with the 1996 scandal [and] (b) to suggest that these crimes should be viewed as a breed of organized crimi- nality (a category of behaviors in which so-called white-collar crimes would fall). . . . ROGER TAMRAZ In the mid 19905, Roger Tamraz, an international fugitive wanted on bank fraud and embezzlement charges, attempted to obtain US. government support for an oil pipeline project that would cross the Caspian Sea region. Tamraz’s efforts in- cluded using his past relationship with the CIA and making political donations to the Democratic Party to gain access to mid-level and upper level US. government officials, including the vice- president and president of the United States. Al- though Tamraz did not get US. support for his pipeline project, . . . the events surrounding this case study exemplify the widespread practice of purchasing access to government officials and, conversely, the great lengths some officials will go [to,] to ensure that contributions are made and access granted. In the spring of 1995, a National Security Council (NSC) interagency group on Caspian Sea oil pipeline policy, headed by Sheila Heslin, be— came aware that Tamraz was promoting himself in the Caspian Sea region as a deal maker and that the substance of his pipeline proposal ran contrary to US. policy. Despite his flawed proposal and his shady background in Lebanon, , . . Heslin and the NSC group decided that Tamraz at least deserved a hearing in front of his g0vernment to assess his proposal. NSC and CIA officials sub— sequently met with Tamraz in May and June of 1995 to discuss the proposed Caspian pipeline. Prior to a June 2 meeting between Heslin and Tamraz, CIA officials from both the Directorate of Intelligence (DI—analysis of infOrmation) and the Directorate of Operations (DO—gathering of information) informed Heslin that they would send her a report. Heslin testified before the Sen- ate Governmental Affairs Committee in 1997 that the DI report contained primarily negative infor- mation about Tamraz, whereas the DO report was Source: Don Liddick, “Political Fund-Raising, Patron—Client Relations. and Organized Criminality.” Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice, vol. 17 (November 2001), pp. 346—357. Reprinted by permission of Sage Publi- cations. Inc. 280 completely positive. A CIA agent in the DO, identified only as “Bob” at committee hearings, began to contact Heslin and push for a White House meeting between President Clinton and Tamraz in early June 1995, a lobbying effort that continued through October. . . . Efforts to arrange access to the White House on Tammz’s behalf were not limited to “Bob” at the CIA. . . . After the NSC interagency group led by Heslin indicated to Tamraz that his pipeline proposal would not gain White House support, Tamraz testified before the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee that “they kicked me from the door, I will come through the window.” Tamraz’s passage through the window began in July 1999, when he became a major contributor to the De— mocratic Party. Between July and October 1995, Tamraz contributed $220,000 to various Democ- ratic entities, including the Virginia Democratic Party, the Louisiana Democratic Party, the Democ- ratic National Committee (DNC) Federal Account, the DNC, and the Richard Molpus for Governor of Mississippi campaign. Check—tracking forms ob- tained by the Governmental Affairs Committee listed DNC chairman Donald Fowler as the solici~ tor of Tarnraz’s donations. . . .Denied top-level ac- cess by the NSC, Tamraz came in through the DNC window. The culpability of the DNC and DNC chair- man Donald Fowler in soliciting and taking money from Tamraz is beyond dispute. Before and after Fowler’s July 1995 meeting with Tamraz, DNC staffers warned Fowler about the dubious nature of Tamraz’s pipeline proposal as well as his trou- bles in Lebanon. . . . Despite the warnings, Fowler, DNC finance director Richard Sullivan, and other fund-raisers at the DNC not only solicited and ac- cepted Tamraz’s donations but also went to great lengths to arrange access and provide him the po— litical leverage he sought. . . . [Ultimately,] Tamraz, through his DNC and Democratic Party donations, was permitted to attend six events with President Clinton from Sep— tember 1995 through June 1996. The events in— cluded the following: 43 LIDDICK POLITICAL DEVIANCE 281 1. A reception for the DNC‘s Business Leader- ship Forum on September 11, 1995. A DNC dinner on September 15, 1995. The DNC chairman’s holiday reception on December 13, 1995. A DNC trustee’s dinner on March 27, 1996. A presidential coffee on April 1, 1996. A buffet dinner and private screening of the film Independence Day on June 22, 1996. (“Investigation of Illegal or Improper Activi- ties in Connection with 1996 Federal Election Campaigns,” 1998, ch. 21) 9459 PS"? Having successfully purchased access to Pres— ident Clinton, Tamraz proceeded to pursue his ulti- mate goal of changing US. foreign policy and influencing the president to endorse his pipeline project to the governments of the Caspian region. Tamraz pitched his proposal to President Clinton at a March 27, 1996, DNC dinner and an April 1, 1996, White House coffee; the president expressed interest, and the matter was referred to Counselor to the President Thomas “Mack” McClarty for in- vestigation. McClarty delegated the investigation of the merits of the pipeline proposal to the Asso- ciate Deputy Secretary for Energy, Kyle Simpson, who in turn enlisted the help of his Energy Depart— ment colleague Jack Carter. Because the NSC’s in- teragency task force on Caspian region matters was the only real obstacle to Tamraz’s objective, Carter subsequently called the beleaguered Sheila Heslin on April 4, 1996. Heslin testified before the Sen— ate committee in 1997 that Carter pressured her to change the position of the task force, invoking the clout of Mack McClarty and Tamraz’s sizable cam— paign contributions. Carter also inferred that her job could be in jeopardy if McClarty ever became energy secretary and informed her that she should not be “such a girl scout.” Moreover, Heslin re- called that Carter quoted a $200,000 contribution figure, a number essentially equal to the $205,000 total recorded in a memoranda compiled for Tam— raz by the DNC within 24 hours of Tamraz’s March 27, 1996, discussion with President Clinton about his pipeline proposal. Tarnraz’s support for the DNC and the Democratic Party was effectively 282 PART ELEVEN PRIVILEGED DEVIANCE communicated from the president through Mack McClarty to officials at the Energy Department, who attempted to pressure a national security offi- cial to change official US. foreign policy. In April 1999, the 515 mile Baku-Supsa pipeline opened and was hailed by Azerbajani of— ficials because it avoided Russian territory and thus contributed to Azerbaijan‘s economic inde— pendence. However, the Baku-Supsa line is ex- pected to handle only 10% of Caspian Sea production, and 12 energy companies (including U.S.—based Penzoil, Unocal, McDermott and Exxon, and Amoco/British Petroleum) have formed a $7.5 billion consortium . . . that favors another pipeline route from Baku northward through Chechnya to the Black Sea port of Novorossiysk. By October 1998, [the consortium] had completely rejected the Baku-Ceyhan route pushed by Roger Tamraz and the Clinton State Department, a friction that was viewed by some as a loss of US. credibility on the pipeline issue. Of course, whether Roger Tamraz’s relatively paltry $300,000 influenced US foreign policy is debat— able, but the sale of access to the White House and the undue political pressure placed on a U.S. for- eign policy formulator is beyond doubt. THE CHEYENNE AND ARAPAHO TRIBES In March 1997, media accounts revealed that the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes of Oklahoma had donated $107,000 to the DNC in 1996 with the un— derstanding that the contributions would help them reacquire the Fort Reno tribal lands (the federal government had seized the 9,500 acre parcel in 1883, and it was now believed that significant oil and gas deposits lay beneath it). Staff for the Sen- ate Governmental Affairs Committee interviewed tribal leaders in August and September 1997 . . . , uncovering a series of events in which Democratic fund-raisers attempted to fleece the tribes out of additional contributions, legal fees, and land de- velopment fees. . . . The story is one of blatant in- fluence peddling that at one point sank as low as attempted extortion. Prior to 1996, the tribes had aggressively pur- sued their claims to the Fort Reno lands, contacting both the Departments of Interior and Agriculture in 1994 and 1995. Frustrated by these attempts, tribal leaders hired Michael Turpen, a former attorney general of Oklahoma, to lobby on their behalf, Turpen set up meetings with Washington officials and accompanied tribal representatives to Wash- ington, DC, in early 1996 and wrote a letter to presidential aide Mack McClarty seeking his assis- tance. During this time period, Tupen was also atop fund-raiser in Oklahoma for the Democrats and Clinton—Gore ‘96, so he soon informed the tribes that the way to get heard in Washington is to make political donations, typically in the six-figure range. The tribes eventually agreed to donate $100,000 and were soon invited to attend a luncheon with President Clinton in the White House. On June 17, 1996, two tribal leaders, Surveyor and Todd, dined with the president and a small group of people in the White House. Surveyor and Todd left the meet- ing uplifted, for as they remember it, the president had told them something to the effect that “we’ll look into it and see what we can do.” Because the tribes had not actually delivered the $100,000 at or prior to the luncheon, a flurry of phone calls from Turpen and Jason McIntosh (Turpen’s contact at Clinton—Gore ‘96) ensued, pressing the tribes for payment. Turpen called June 20, insisting that the tribes pay the DNC immediately, and McIntosh placed several calls beginning June 24 that became increasingly “aggressive” in tone. On June 26, 1996, the tribes wired a contribution to the DNC totaling $87,671.74, representing the entire sum in the tribal bank account. Sometime in July, Turpen called the tribe and reminded them that they were still $13,000 short and suggested that they donate $20,000 to help host President Clinton’s 50th birthday party. The tribal leaders agreed and do- nated the $20,000 through Turpen’s firm. . . . By December 1996, the tribes had grown rest- less because they had seen no progress in their quest to regain the Fort Reno lands. Apparently, the only tangible result of their $107,000 donation was additional solicitations from Democratic fund- raisers. . . . [When the tribes refused, the deal] was dead in the water. The Cheyenne Arapaho did not get the Fort Reno lands back because of their $107,000 donation. But this case does at the very least embody a classic example of influence ped- dling. If asked, Roger Tamraz would have likely told tribal representatives that they should have contributed more if they really wanted results. CONCLUSION The two case studies provided here embody what has become intrinsic in the American political REFERENCES 43 LIDDICK POLITICAL DEVIANCE 283 process——the purchasing of access, the peddling of influence, and all too often, the brazen sale of polit- ical office. Moreover, it seems perfectly legitimate to frame these behaviors as organized criminality, in which public officials, private entrepreneurs (both licit and illicit), and assorted power brokers engage in complicated reciprocal exchange relations. In the present examples, these complex relationships mesh legal, quasi-legal, and illegal behaviors and utterly blur the lines dividing legitimate political processes from what is commonly referred to as white-collar crime. [Major sources of material for this article:] Investigation of Illegal or Improper Activities in Con- nection with 1996 Federal Election Campaigns. (1998), Chapter 21: The Saga of Roger Tamra: (Final Report of the Senate Committee on Govern- mental Affairs, 105th Congress, 2nd session, 1998). Washington, DC: Government Printing Office. REVIEW QUESTIONS Investigation of Illegal or Improper Activities in Con- nection with 1996 Federal Election Campaigns ( 1998, March 10). Chapter 24: The Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes (Final Report of the Senate Com- mittee on Governmental Affairs, 105th Congress, 2nd session, 1998). Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1. Why are these two case studies considered political deviance? Support your an— swer using one or more theories of deviance. 2. Do you think that white-collar criminals should be treated the same as violent criminals in the court of law? ...
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This note was uploaded on 04/10/2008 for the course SOCI 108 taught by Professor Zhang during the Spring '08 term at Tulane.

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SOCI_108_LIDDICK_4 - 43 POLITICAL DEVIANCE: TWO CASE...

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