NEW YORK (AP) -- The chairman of Morgan Stanley has told clients it was a mistake to invite former President Bill Clinton to speak at a company conference last week, a company executive said Sunday.
Chairman Philip J. Purcell said the decision to invite Clinton did not receive the proper review within the investment firm, Judy Hitchen, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter's vice president of communications, said in a telephone interview.
"We should have been far more sensitive to the strong feelings of our clients over Mr. Clinton's personal behavior as president," Purcell wrote in an e-mail message. "We should have thought twice before the speaking invitation was extended."
"Our failure to do so was particularly unfortunate in light of Mr. Clinton's actions in leaving the White House," he added.
Clinton has come under fire for pardoning billionaire fugitive Marc Rich and for accepting thousands of dollars worth of gifts. Clinton has stuck by his decision to pardon Rich, but he has returned several of the gifts.
Morgan Stanley Dean Witter acknowledged last week that it received several phone calls from customers irate that Clinton spoke at the company's annual High Net Worth conference, held this year in Boca Raton, Fla. Clinton was paid between $100,000 to $150,000 for his first speech since leaving office. It was closed to the press and the public.
"I fully understand why you are upset that former President Clinton spoke at one of our conferences," Purcell wrote. "We clearly made a mistake."
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