WASHINGTON -- Democratic fund-raiser Beth Dozoretz invoked the Fifth Amendment Monday, joining Denise Rich in refusing to testify before a congressional committee about their roles in pushing for a controversial presidential pardon for fugitive financier Marc Rich.
Dozoretz, who reportedly persuaded Denise Rich to donate $450,000 to former President Clinton's presidential library foundation, had been called to testify on Thursday before the House Government Reform Committee, which is seeking to determine whether Clinton pardoned Marc Rich because of his ex-wife's donations.
But Dozoretz' attorney, Thomas C. Green, advised the committee Monday that she would not respond to the panel's subpoena.
"Because of the pendency of other investigations, Ms. Dozoretz, upon advice of counsel, has elected to invoke her constitutional privilege not to testify," Green told Chairman Dan Burton, R-Ind.
While the lawyer did not mention the parallel criminal investigation by the U.S. attorney's office in New York, which is trying to determine whether federal laws were broken in connection with the Rich pardon, he clearly was thinking of it.
Dozoretz, a Clinton friend and former finance chairwoman for the Democratic National Committee, spoke to President Clinton on behalf of Marc Rich at least twice in the weeks before Clinton left the White House. She also is thought to have had a major role in convincing Denise Rich to contribute heavily to the Clinton presidential library fund.
What the committee wants to know is whether any of the $450,000 in donations came from Marc Rich. It is illegal for a fugitive to contribute to political causes and it also could show a quid pro quo.
Jack Quinn, Marc Rich's attorney, testified two weeks ago to the Senate Judiciary Committee, which also is investigating the pardon, that he asked Dozoretz to talk to Clinton about the Rich pardon.
The Thursday hearing is aimed at learning how the White House staff handled the Rich pardon request in the final days of the Clinton presidency. The pardon was one of 140 pardons and 36 commutations granted on Jan. 20.
Also subpoenaed to testify Thursday are White House Counsel Beth Nolan, Chief of Staff John Podesta and Clinton friend and adviser Bruce Lindsey.
Committee staff members said that, along with the Rich pardon, they also hope to determine how Hugh Rodham, the president's brother-in-law and brother of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., came to represent two clemency applicants for fees totaling $400,000.
That revelation caused a storm of controversy last week and Rodham said he has since returned $200,000 each to Horacio Vignali, whose son, Carlos, was released from prison on a drug conspiracy charge, and Almon Glenn Braswell, pardoned on perjury and mail fraud charges.
Burton described as "stonewall tactics" the refusals of Dozoretz and Denise Rich to cooperate, as well as the Clinton library's refusal to turn over its donor lists, which were subpoenaed by the panel earlier this month.
The committee wants the names of everyone who donated $5,000 or more to the library. But Clinton maintains that revealing the names would be an invasion of privacy, and his lawyers have refused to honor the committee's subpoenas for the records.
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