Pittsburgh Tribune Review



McNickle Editorial



Investigating Specter




Some of the more vociferous critics of the Clinton administration's involvement in all things China are applauding the Senate Judiciary Committee's “get-tough” move to scour the bottom of this sordid barrel. Perhaps they should hold those plaudits, considering who's going to be directing the latest investigation to end all investigations.


A new Senate task forced headed by Pennsylvania Republican Arlen Specter last week was given subpoena powers to dissect the plea agreements reached with Clinton fund-raising pals Johnny Chung, John Huang and Charlie Trie. Sen. Specter's panel also will attempt to learn why espionage charges weren't filed in a case (or cases) that might be linked to the fund-raising scandal.


But wait. There are legitimate questions about Mr. Spector's impartiality, and from myriad sources:


- Judicial Watch, the Washington, D.C., watchdog group,

notes that Arlen Specter's wife, Joan, secured a Clinton appointment to the National Council on the Arts (an advisory panel to the National Endowment for the Arts) at the height of the Monica Lewinsky scandal. That wasn't long before the Clinton impeachment vote. It's the vote in which Specter

invoked Scottish law to say the president was neither guilty nor innocent but that the allegations were “not proven.”


- The American Spectator magazine questions Spector's ties to Arthur Coia's Laborers International Union. While Clinton and the Democrats got millions in direct and indirect campaign contributions from Coia (and, we add, Coia seemed to get preferential Justice Department treatment for it), Specter got $8,000 from Coia and his union, the magazine reports.


- The Washington Times reports Specter also received $10,000 from Ron Carey's Teamsters Union for the year ending in June 1997. It found no Teamsters donations in the five years prior, based on a review of Federal Elections Commission records. As chairman of the Senate Labor Budget subcommittee, Specter played a role in securing $22 million in public financing for the scandal-torn 1996 Teamsters election. In August 1997, the elections results were thrown out, based on violations in Mr. Carey's campaign.


- On Friday, Judicial Watch Chairman Larry Klayman reiterated for the Tribune-Review what he alleged in a Thursday news release: His organization “has new source information that Arlen Specter is a part of the Teamsters scandal.” He declined to elaborate. Mr. Klayman, however, is convinced Specter won't be pursued “thanks to the mutual defense pack of Democrat and Republican senators not to hold each other accountable.”


If Klayman indeed has such damning information, he needs to surrender it to the proper authorities. Nonetheless, the American people should be skeptical of Sen. Specter heading any investigation into the Clinton administration when his nexus to it, and the circumstances surrounding that relationship and others, should be ample fodder for an inquiry all unto itself.

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