Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Sex, fraud and the Clintons

(NOTE: The following post contains graphic language.)

The more I look at the beleaguered Illinois company named International Profit Associates (IPA), the more it becomes a better story: Sex, politics, fraud and the Clintons entwined in all three.

Consider this little chronology:

--SOMEWHERE BETWEEN 1997-2001—Bill Clinton administration investigates IPA for sexual harassment.
--JUNE 2001—New Bush administration's EEOC files federal lawsuit against IPA in what was described by an EEOC lawyer in a May 2006 NY Times story as "...probably the most egregious case of sex harassment that the Chicago district office has seen. The owner of the company (Burgess) engaged in harassment, and that set the tone for the company, on down."

--DECEMBER 8, 2001—Just six months after the federal lawsuit, ex-president Bill Clinton takes $125,000 to speak at IPA event at Hyatt Regency, Chicago. He is introduced by IPA founder John Burgess, a convicted criminal and the key defendant in the suit. "I want to thank John and Dana for being such good friends to Hillary and to me." Illinois Senator Dick Durbin is in attendance, acknowledged by Clinton in his speech.

--1999-2007—While politicians across the country returned campaign contributions from IPA and its top officials, Hillary raked in more than $150,000 and apparently kept it all, according to disclosure reports. Her presidential campaign as recently as March 31 took $4,600 (husband-wife) from IPA lawyer Myron "Mike" Cherry, also known as "Individual H" in the federal corruption racketeering indictment of Tony Rezko.
We wonder whether IPA donated to the Clinton Library. An entreprising reporter might want to ask that question. It would help explain, not justify, why Hillary refuses to return IPA money despite the company history of not only sexual harassment allegations, but accusations of fraud. The Illinois Attorney General's office is investigating the company, the Better Business Bureau says IPA has an "unsatisfactory record" with 425 complaints over three years and civil lawsuits have been flying since the company began in 1991, including a pending civil racketeering lawsuit in U.S. District Court, Chicago.

Again, this is not your garden variety sexual harassment lawsuit. Here is the opening paragraph from a 2006 EEOC filing on the pending case:

Since at least 1997, International Profit Association ("IPA") has tolerated a pattern or practice of sex discrimination by allowing a hostile working environment for women. At least 40 women have described sexual assaults, at least 50 were propositioned for sex, women were routinely subjected to the most insulting and degrading anti-female language imaginable: described as "cunt," "fucking bitch," "pussy," "whore" and "fat ass," and insulted with obscene suggestions: "you must know how to suck a good dick," "I bet she'd give a good blow job," and worse. The harassment emanated from the top: the owner and Managing Director, John Burgess, is accused of sexual harassment by at least 10 different women. Not surprisingly, top managers, Directors and Zone managers, were frequent offenders. Women who complained were told that nothing could be done.
At least 40 women have described sexual assaults? For Bill, no problem. He'll take the $125,000 speaking fee. For Hillary, no problem. She'll ride the IPA corporate jet and take another $150,000. The company is happy too, because it uses speeches like Clinton's as a marketing tool to attract new clients.

Yes, it's true that George Bush Sr. was paid to speak at an IPA event in 1999. Yet, that was before the sexual harassment lawsuit was filed and it was not followed by massive campaign contributions to his son. IPA gave a few thousand to GWB and it was returned. Among this year's presidential candidates, Barack Obama returned a similar small donation. John Edwards has taken $6,000 from IPA and not returned it. In all, IPA and its executives have given politicians about $1 million over the past several years.

We wonder whether Hillary will continue her cozy relationship with IPA and Cherry as she continues to raise money in Illinois for her presidential campaign.

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