- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Trust your adviser?

How would you feel if your broker or investment adviser shared your confidential financial records with your enemy who was writing a book?

One of the more hair-raising chapters of Sidney Blumenthal’s “800-page gorilla,” as Publishers Weekly describes his book “The Clinton Wars,” deals with how the Clinton aide and Hillary sidekick obtained crucial information about the so-called “Arkansas Project” — which is what President Clinton’s cronies called American Spectator magazine’s investigation of the ex-president’s more sordid Arkansas adventures.

They described it as “a clandestine campaign funded by Richard Mellon Scaife,” though it’s not clear how an investigation whose results were published in a national magazine could be called “clandestine.”

Mr. Blumenthal writes that Democratic strategist Bob Shrum casually mentioned to him that his onetime classmate at Georgetown University — one Ralph “Bud” Lemley — had some “valuable information about the Arkansas Project.”

Mr. Blumenthal telephoned Mr. Lemley in Chicago, where he operates a financial management business he inherited from his father.

“Among the clients passed on to him was the American Spectator magazine, a small conservative publication produced in Bloomington, Ind.; the parents of its editor, R. Emmett Tyrell [sic], had been friends of Bud’s father,” Mr. Blumenthal writes. “So Bud took over the account, handling it for 20 years, even after the magazine moved to Washington, and he became a close friend of the publisher, Ronald Burr.

“In 1997, Burr confided in him a story of fiscal mismanagement and ideological mania,” he continues, writing that Mr. Tyrrell “had been a passive player, more interested in leisure than editing, and he had been paid off as a front man — half of his mortgage on a house in Virginia, an apartment in New York, club fees, credit cards, posh vacations.”

Mr. Lemley, who Mr. Blumenthal concedes “did not share the politics of the Spectator,” recommended that he and Mr. Burr team up to document “the abuses.” When a memo revealing the Lemley-Burr findings reached Mr. Tyrrell’s desk, Mr. Burr was fired.

“[Mr. Lemley] decided the outrage should be exposed,” Mr. Blumenthal writes. And expose Mr. Lemley did — spilling to the Clinton aide every relevant detail he had collected about the American Spectator and Mr. Tyrrell.

This raises a question of interest to anyone with a broker: Did Mr. Lemley cross the ethical bounds of a financial adviser?

Mr. Blumenthal discloses in his book that “Lemley also had an accounting record of payments [to Mr. Clintons accusers], carefully noting the precise amounts alongside names and dates: the Arkansas Project had paid Ted Olson for helping to defend David Hale; writers on the American Spectator; an Arkansas trooper, L.D. Browne; and Dozhier’s Bait Shop, numerous times.”

“I disclosed no confidential information about a client,” Mr. Lemley says in a telephone interview. “The information I had in my possession had nothing to do with my responsibilities for American Spectator. The information I had arose because Ron and I were friends — he asked for advice, non-paid, as a friend. That’s where the advice came from, and everything written in the book was personal advice between friends and had nothing to do with my managing the money of the American Spectator.”

So he sees nothing unethical about speaking to the White House about several of his clients?

“I used no American Spectator documents that were under the management agreement with them, so I think there was no ethical problem at all. I never thought there was an ethical problem. Blumenthal knew nothing of the investment records; I don’t talk to anyone about my clients. I don’t think Blumenthal knew Tyrrell was my client.”

That’s not how the client sees it.

Says Bob Tyrrell: “The embattled Bud Lemley says, ‘I don’t talk to anyone about my clients in the midst of a Clintonesque admission that he had talked maliciously about one of his clients, namely me. I rest my case.”

Heil Ashcroft

It’s easy to criticize reporters, a leading congressman tells the Media Institute.

“It seems that everyone does,” observes Rep. Lamar S. Smith, Texas Republican. “But please consider this question: If one of your employees consistently provided you with only part of the information you needed, would you be satisfied with that employee’s performance?”

Take ABC’s Barbara Walters, the congressman said, who in narrating an interview last year with Fidel Castro said, “For Castro, freedom starts with education. And if literacy alone were the yardstick, Cuba would rank as one of the freest nations on Earth.”

And Newsweek Assistant Managing Editor Evan Thomas, who as a guest on the TV program “Inside Washington” said: “If we’d really been watching and paying attention we could have headed off [September 11]. But the German prosecutorial system was pretty laid back and didn’t want to be [Attorney General] John Ashcroft, you know, they didn’t want to be the SS, they had that worry there, no Gestapos.”

Said Mr. Smith: “Americans who only receive their news from these media outlets could reasonably conclude that Cuba is a virtual democracy [and] John Ashcroft is a Nazi … ”

John McCaslin, a nationally syndicated columnist, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or [email protected]

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