November 20, 1996
President Clinton's Asia Business Questioned!by William Heartstone, Staff Journalist, Daily Republican
WASHINGTON BUREAU - President Clinton has been visiting Asia since his tenure as Arkansas Governor. His Arkansas associates have been going back and forth between Little Rock and Asia selling Clinton White House access.
Since moving into the White House in 1993, the president apparently has approved his associates business partnerships and soliciting political donations from many tycoons and other well-connected figures in Asian nations.
In such places as Indonesia, Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan, influential Asians were approached by the Arkansans, invited to do business with them and granted meetings with President Clinton or visits to the White House. The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that a Hong Kong billionaire had contributed $50,000 to a Hope, Arkansas 'foundation' to renovate Bill Clinton's boyhood home.
The controversy is an odd one tied to clumsy international commerce and down-home Arkansas hill-billy politics.
Attempting to distance president Clinton from the grimier side of the incident,White House press secretary, Michael McCurry told the press on Wednesday 'The president would be greatly disturbed if people were misrepresenting themselves as being in a position to control access to him or misrepresenting their access and influence.'
Yet the Arkansawyers who were traveling to Asia had very loyal ties to president Clinton. Their names have appeared are in the telephone logs of John Huang, the Commerce Department official who quit this year to work for the Democratic National Committee. Huang raised about $2.5 million for the Democrat Party with some of that originating from illegal foreign Asian sources. After disclosure of Huang's activities by the Daily Republican news service prior to the November election, the DNC quickly returned $610,000 raised by Huang and has laid him off.
It appears that president Clinton was directly or indirectly engaged in attempting to make Little Rock a hub for lucrative deal making over the past 15 years or more.
A key player in this melodrama is Maria Haley, who helped arrange most of president Clinton's trips while he was governor of Arkansas. Later she continued this activity as a White House official. She is a close friend of Hillary Rodham Clinton and helped John Huang to get his job at the Commerce Department.
Even though Bill Clinton wasn't known in Asia, the Philippines-born Maria Haley was. Her background was that of an ambassador's daughter who had lived in India, Pakistan, Japan, Hong Kong and Laos. Haley had gone to Little Rock to marry an Arkansas lawyer, John Haley. Attorney, John Haley, has since been indicted on fraud charges by Whitewater prosecutor Kenneth Starr and is awaiting trial. John Haley, in 1979 became governor Clinton's trade adviser, pushing to get Arkansas products into Asia's booming markets.
In 1985, Maria Haley and another Asian, John Riady arranged a trip to the Far East for governor Clinton. Riady was in Arkansas working for Worthen Bank, which his family's Lippo Group, partly owned. Lippo was a $6 billion conglomerate, that recently gave more than $1 million into president Clinton's election campaigns.
In Hong Kong, president Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton with a dozen businessmen and officials, were lavishly entertained by the Riady's. The escort on that occasion was John Huang, Riadys' top man in America Later, president Clinton appointed Huang to a top position in the Commerce Department and the DNC.
Following that Asia trip and trade mission, Arkansas opened state offices in Tokyo and Taipei. Little Rock attorney Joseph Giroir, a director of Worthen Bank and Hillary Rodham Clinton's boss at the Rose Law Firm, began making deals in Asia for the Arkansas firms of Tyson Foods Inc. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
At the same time,a close friend of governor Clinton, attorney Mark Grobmyer, the law partner of Maria Haley's husband, opened the Mid-South International Trade Center.
Following the 1992 presidential election, many of the Arkansans followed Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton to Washington. Inside the White House, the Arkansas internationalists had a pipeline to Maria Haley, who worked in the personnel office, and to Mark Middleton, a young Little Rock lawyer who was a deputy to president Clinton's first chief of staff, Mack McLarty.
Haley and Middleton were both well known to president Clinton's Arkansas supporters, who donated $4 million to his 1992 campaign.
A shadow of corruption would soon be cast over the first family, the White House, and the American political tradition.
Shortly after president Clinton's election, John Huang came to the White House. Secret Service logs show he entered the White House 94 times, an unusual degree of access for either a mid level Commerce official or a DNC fund-raiser. His former boss, James Riady, also had White House access; Secret Service logs show 20 visits, including six to the Oval Office.
The White House first said the visits were social calls. When that story was challenged in press reports, the White House confirmed that president Clinton had actually discussed policy and business issues relating to China and Indonesia with Riady during some of his visits.
Maria Haley moved from the White House in 1995 to become a board member and Asia-Pacific director of the Export-Import Bank. She met with John Huang often. She also met with James Riady for what she depicts as courtesy visits. Haley also met with Middleton, who had also left the White House to go into private business. She also briefed Asian contacts on Export-Import Bank practices.
Middleton. Since leaving the White House in February 1995, has continued to frequent the there, visiting at least 65 times according to the logs.
It has become common knowledge on the streets of Asia that Middleton has boasted that he could arrange meetings with president Clinton. He has been passing out embossed business cards with a White House telephone number that, connected to a White House recording giving out his new business telephone number.
On Sept. 22, 1995, Middleton helped arrange a clandestine meeting in San Francisco between president Clinton and an emissary of Taiwan's ruling political party. The meeting came a month after Middleton had visited Taiwan and met with several Taiwanese politicians, one of whom offered, in front of witnesses, to give $15 million to help re-elect president Clinton.
Middleton has denied being involved such a meeting and several Taiwanese officials have denied pledging campaign money in the U.S.
Middleton, however, has not slowed-down. Last week, he was in Jakarta, Indonesia, meeting with people involved in a $1.4 billion power project that is connected to Siti Hediati Harijadi, a daughter of Indonesian president Suharto. Middleton visited the White House three times with Suharto's daughter.
Middleton, reached in Jakarta last week, told the Journal 'There's a story to tell, but now isn't the time to tell it.'