Skip to comments.CONGRESS: ROGER CLINTON IN SHAKEDOWN Report ties Clinton's brother to airport bid
Posted on 03/26/2002 5:06:19 PM PST by Liz
WASHINGTON A movement to build an international airport in Alabama fizzled in 1997 after a former Birmingham City Council member refused to hire President Clinton's half brother, a congressional panel concluded.
A 470-page report from a probe initiated after Clinton's last-minute pardons dedicates an entire section to what authors called "The Shakedown of John Katopodis."
In greater detail than previously released, the House Government Reform Committee describes how Katopodis alleges he was pressured to hire Roger Clinton for $35,000 a month in exchange for getting a cabinet secretary to attend a symposium on the airport idea.
After Katopodis ultimately declined to hire Roger Clinton, his overtures to then-Secretary of Transportation Rodney Slater were ignored, investigators said.
"Support for the airport and its promotional symposium lost all momentum because of the delay in receiving a response from the secretary," the report states.
Katopodis said Monday the local political enthusiasm for the airport was already wavering and his refusal to hire the president's younger brother may have been a factor in, but was not the sole cause of, the failure of his proposal.
"I don't think the Clinton administration's extortion attempts were very helpful to the whole process, but there were other factors as well," Katopodis said. "That wasn't it alone. I think they took some editorial license there."
Metropolitan-area leaders remain divided over whether a new, larger airport outside the city is needed or resources would be better spent expanding the current site. Katopodis said the idea of a new airport is not dead, and discussions continue behind the scenes.
Although the Katopodis section of the committee's report was largely overlooked nationally, the House investigators declared the airport scheme a harbinger of Roger Clinton's later attempts to "sell" pardons and paroles to convicted criminals.
"Moreover, Roger Clinton's lobbying efforts in these other areas would show no more subtlety than did his crude dealings with Katopodis," they wrote.
Efforts to reach Roger Clinton's attorney in Los Angeles for comment were unsuccessful.
The committee's probe was led by Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind., and its report offered strong criticism of Clinton affiliates, mostly for dealings widely reported after the post-election pardons.
The report carries no legal weight, but a grand jury in New York continues to look at whether some of the pardons were illegal. A spokeswoman for the former president has said the report's conclusion that he encouraged his half-brother to use his presidency for personal financial gain was "simply false."
The section on Katopodis, a former member of the Birmingham City Council and the Jefferson County Commission, was based largely on interviews he gave the FBI in 1997. The report does not allege the law was broken in the Alabama-related case.
Katopodis, who was working as executive director of the Council of Cooperating Governments, said he was contacted in the fall of 1996 by an attorney from Arkansas who claimed connections to the Clinton administration and offered help to schedule the transportation chief for the conference. Katopodis told investigators he went to an election-night celebration with the man, Larry Wallace, where they discussed a contract for Roger Clinton.
Katopodis apparently considered the idea, but expressed reservations about possible "influence peddling" and complained he had never met the president's half brother.
Roger Clinton eventually contacted Katopodis by phone, he said, but a deal was not struck. A few minutes later, Wallace called him and "informed Katopodis that the airport project would remain at a standstill until Katopodis `showed him the money,'" the report states.
Katopodis' invitations to Transportation Secretary Slater continued to go unanswered, he told investigators. In May 1997, Katopodis faxed a note to Slater's scheduler that stated, "I can't begin to tell you how disgusted I am with this whole matter. If it is the normal policy of your office to not respond to written requests from established organizations, then perhaps I am wrong in my assumptions about the lack of response being tied to an attempt at extortion."
Katopodis also said his request to Rep. Earl Hilliard's office for assistance in scheduling Slater confirmed his suspicions.
Six days after the fax was sent to Slater's office, a staffer in Hilliard's office told Katopodis that he had "been bad again" and that he should stop incriminating Roger Clinton and Wallace, according to Katopodis.
Two days after that, the FBI contacted Katopodis. He had one meeting with investigators and two telephone interviews.
In a September 2001 interview with the House committee investigators, Katopodis said he recorded some of the phone conversations with Roger Clinton but could not locate the tapes and believed he may have given them to the FBI.
Don't panic. You're OK. It was reported previously. This is
the Congressional report on the incident, after their investigation.
Yeah, I did say that. Guess there's no cure for this pestilence.
The FBI? You mean the Federal Bureau of Incompetence.
Moanica, what are you doing under my seat?
Course it's illegal. But the Slime Brothers have a knack of slipping out of the grasp of the law.
Don't hold your breath. BTW, I like the graphic. Noticed Klintoon's "pin-up (barf) girl."