- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 7, 2001

Bill Clinton's $100,000 speech to junk-bond traders at a Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co. conference in Boca Raton, Fla., has enraged some of the investment firm's shareholders and clients.
"People are calling and saying, 'How could you pay him?' " said a company figure who spoke to The Washington Times yesterday on condition of anonymity.
Others, however, are doing much more.
Craig Carroll of Gainesville, Fla., and his girlfriend both closed their Discover card accounts yesterday because of its ties with the investment firm.
"It's time we started holding companies accountable for what they do," said Mr. Carroll, a member of a conservative group called FreeRepublic.com.
Elizabeth Sands, who didn't want her place of residence published, said she decided against investing "a substantial sum" of money with the firm solely because of the Clinton speech. She also e-mailed her complaint to the company.
"Apparently [Morgan Stanley Dean Witter] which presumes to handle other people's money does not see anything wrong with paying off an impeached president who lied to the nation, to a grand jury and to his family … who is now accused of 'converting government property' (that's stealing to us commoners) by U-Hauling furniture out of the White House," she wrote.
Officials with Morgan Stanley Dean Witter acknowledged yesterday that angry investors and shareholders have called, but they would not say how many. They did, however, say some shareholders wanted to know how they would be affected.
"If you're a shareholder in the company and the company is paying someone to give a speech, then that's money from the company in which you own shares," said company spokesman Brett Galloway.
But he said it's impossible to tell if the Clinton speech has an effect on the shareholder's bottom line the stock price.
The company's shares on the New York Stock Exchange dropped $1.55 yesterday to $84.95.
Still, he said, "If you own stock in Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, however the company operates in any aspect of its business could affect that stock price."
The investment firm said in a statement that Mr. Clinton was hired by its institutional division, which handles large investors such as pension plans, and not by its retail division, which handles individuals.
"Our clients didn't pay for Bill Clinton," the unnamed company figure told The Times. "People that may go to an individual branch, their dollars are not spent on the institutional side of the firm. The institutional business generates its fees from its own separate totally separate clients."
Asked whether that meant no individual investor money was used to pay the speaking fee, the person said, "I can't guarantee that."
The first paid speech by the former president drew dozens of protesters Monday night to the Boca Raton Resort and Club in Florida, the state that decided the latest presidential election by fewer than 400 votes.
"Hide the women and the silverware. Bill Clinton is in town," Jack Furnari, 43, of Boca Raton shouted as honking cars roared past. "You belong in jail, not in Boca."
Demonstrator Gene McDonald, referring to Mr. Clinton's last-minute immunity deal over the Monica Lewinsky scandal, said: "This is a total travesty. Two weeks ago, he just copped a plea to a felony. Now he's getting $100,000 from Morgan Stanley."
Mr. McDonald, organizer of the protest and president of the Florida chapter of www.FreeRepublic.com, a conservative news Web site, condemned the investment firm for "bringing new meaning to the phrase 'crime pays.' "
"If you corporations want to continue to give big bucks to Bill Clinton … you do that at your own risk with your shareholders," he told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
The brokerage firm apparently took seriously the calls from investors. The company's 13,000 brokers were given "talking points" on how to deal with complaints from clients, according to the Wall Street Journal.
If investors threatened to close their accounts, the talking points instructed the broker to say, "Please don't make emotional decisions on your finances based on this event," the Journal reported. "You should invest on a long-term basis, not your emotions."
Said Mr. Galloway: "We sent out some guidance to our branch offices for them to answer questions about the conference. The guidance was for those financial advisers with clients who called with complaints."
Clinton spokesman Jake Siewert brushed off the protest and said the private speech and the fee will remain private.
"It's a whole new world," Mr. Siewert said. "He's giving private speeches. He's a private citizen."
The Boca Raton protest came as Congress prepared to open hearings on Mr. Clinton's last-minute pardon of Marc Rich, a former Wall Street commodities trader who fled to Switzerland after being charged with a host of crimes, including illegal oil trading with Iran and evasion of $48 million in taxes.
Denise Rich, his former wife, contributed more than $1.3 million to Democrats including Mr. Clinton and his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton since 1992.
It also came amid reports that herbal-remedy marketer Almon Glenn Braswell, also pardoned by Mr. Clinton, was under criminal investigation for possible tax evasion and money laundering.
"No one knew of any ongoing criminal investigation" at the time of the pardon, Mr. Clinton's office said in a statement.
Mr. Clinton and his wife left the White House amid reports of serious vandalism, which is under investigation by the General Accounting Office.
The couple have been criticized for taking $190,000 worth of gifts with them when they left the White House; Mr. Clinton made headlines when word spread that he wanted to rent a $650,000 office penthouse in Manhattan; and Air Force One crew told The Washington Times that the presidential plane was stripped of silverware and china before the couple disembarked in New York.
This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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