Ickes is a one-time civil rights activist
who rose to prominence and controversy as a liberal Democrat and
politically involved lawyer. He was a key player in the election
campaigns of David Dinkins and Bill Clinton. It has been widely
reported that Clinton is not likely to appoint his loyal lieutenant
to a cabinet post partly because Ickes likely would face bruising
confirmation hearings in the Republican-controlled Senate.
To illustrate how those hearings could have
gone, I formulated questions that Republicans might well have
thrown at Ickes, given their zeal in attacking the Clinton administration.
The questions ranged from the clearly outrageous
(Were you ever employed by the Gambino crime family, Mr. Ickes?
and, Were you attempting to fix the Whitewater case, Mr. Ickes?)
to the fanciful (When did you realize Mr. Morris was charging
the Clinton campaign for his prostitute?)
My questions were meant to illustrate what
Ickes probably would have faced from Republicans, regardless of
the evidence at hand.
For example, they have bombarded Ickes about
his handling of Whitewater-related issues, even after a special
prosecutor found no evidence of wrongdoing.
And it's doubtful they would have been deterred
from asking about the Justice Department's decision to allow labor
leader Arthur Coia to remain in control of his union when it was
being cleansed of alleged mob influence, even though career Justice
Department officials and FBI officials testified before Congress
that the White House was not involved.
So my questions were just questions that
Republicans might ask, not statements of fact or accusations.
I'm sorry if they were taken otherwise.
Two more points in particular need addressing.
Point One: The column referred to the controversy
that erupted in the 1989 mayoral race when Dinkins produced the
so-called Dear Dad letter to prove he had transferred cable television
stock to his son years earlier to avoid a conflict of interest.
Suspicions that the letter had been backdated triggered a federal
In summarizing these events, it should have
been noted that a subsequent investigative report on the matter
did not suggest that Ickes played any role in the possibly fraudulent
letter. A federal prosecutor also stated publicly that Ickes had
never been a target of investigation.
Point Two: Ickes served as lawyer for Local
100 of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International
Union, a union whose leadership had been linked to organized crime.
In discussing that, it should not have been written that Ickes
claimed he did not know about allegations against the union of
possible mob ties. The column should have reported that he said
he had not witnessed any wrongdoing. Finally, a trustee appointed
by a federal judge to investigate the union filed a sworn affidavit
stating that she found no evidence of illegal acts or misconduct
by Ickes or his firm.
I hope this clears up the record.