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Bill Clinton's Shady New Friend By: Tom Fitton
FrontPageMagazine.com | Tuesday, October 02, 2007

One of the reasons, of course, that the Clintons have to be so secretive is because of the company they choose to keep.

Former White House intern Douglas Band, who now effectively serves as Bill Clinton’s “right-hand man” and travel companion, was linked this week to a couple of shady business deals gone bad. Here’s the scoop according to The Wall Street Journal:

“Two years ago, Mr. Band befriended a handsome and charming Italian businessman named Raffaello Follieri. The young Italian, now 29 years old, had moved to New York in 2003 to launch a business buying and redeveloping Roman Catholic Church properties. As a gatekeeper to the former president's web of business and charitable enterprises, Mr. Band helped Mr. Follieri get into business with Mr. Clinton, according to people involved with the three men. In 2005, Yucaipa Cos., a Los Angeles investment firm where Mr. Clinton has been a partner and a senior adviser, agreed to invest up to $100 million in Mr. Follieri's church-property venture.”

(You may recall that Ron Burkle has contributed large amounts of money to the Clinton campaigns, the Clinton Legal Defense Fund and Clinton Presidential Library. Yucaipa also hired Bill Clinton as a consultant in a business deal that could net the former president – and his wife – tens of millions of dollars with little risk or investment.)

Band also reportedly helped broker another multimillion dollar business deal between Follieri and Toronto realestate mogul Michael Cooper.

What did Follieri offer the Clinton camp in return?

With his supposed Vatican connections, Follieri said he would help deliver the Catholic vote to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. The Follieri Foundation also contributed $1 million to a vaccination program sponsored by the Clinton Global Initiative. Follieri also gave to Band a $400,000 “finder’s fee” for the Cooper deal. (Band claims he did not keep the money, but rather gave half to Mr. Cooper, and the other half to another person who helped broker the deal.)

It appears, however, that what began as a potentially lucrative business relationship has quickly soured.

Yucaipa CEO (and Bill Clinton’s boss at that firm) Ron Burkle has filed a lawsuit against Follieri, charging him with misappropriating more than $1.3 million. The lawsuit claims Follieri used Yucaipa’s money “to fund a lavish lifestyle that included a Manhattan penthouse, five-star meals and private jets for Mr. Follieri and his girlfriend, actress Anne Hathaway.” Michael Cooper wants his money back because Follieri did not keep up his end of the bargain.

The Clintons have been forced, once again, to distance themselves from one of their allegedly corrupt business associates. According to the WSJ, when asked about Follieri, “Jay Carson, Mr. Clinton's spokesman, said in June that while the former president had met Mr. Follieri a few times, ‘he obviously meets hundreds of people every day, and does not know him well.’” (Never mind the photos of Follieri and the former president arm in arm, or the time Bill Clinton brought Follieri onstage to thank him for his contribution to the Clinton Global Initiative.)

Why is all of this important? Because Bill Clinton’s business deals are Hillary’s as well. When a company throws money at and uses Bill Clinton, they are throwing money at and using Hillary. When Bill Clinton makes a promise, it is Hillary’s to keep. This latest news story also speaks to the Clintons’ judgment. Just a few weeks after Hillary’s largest fundraiser was outed as a fugitive from justice, another Clinton associate is in trouble for alleged shady and corrupt business practices.

Tom Fitton is president of Judicial Watch.

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