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Payback Time?

By Michael Weisskopf

Time magazine

(TIME, May 19) -- When TIME reported two weeks ago that Hong Kong interests used a U.S. shell corporation to guarantee a $2.2 million loan to a G.O.P. think tank, ex-party chairman Haley Barbour (the think tank's head) denied knowledge of foreign backing. But a secret memo obtained by TIME shows that a year before Young Bros. Development-USA collateralized the 1994 loan, Barbour was advised of plans to seek overseas funds for the National Policy Forum. Last week the G.O.P. refunded $122,400 in Young Bros. campaign money, conceding its illegal Hong Kong origins. Democrats, smelling blood after months of battering for their fund-raising excess, are urging the return of the full $2.2 million. Most of that loan to the Forum was rerouted to the party to repay past debts and free up cash for the final weeks of the G.O.P.'s 1994 electoral coup. Two years later, Young Bros. was forced to pick up $500,000 of the loan balance after the party-backed Forum reneged on payments.

Reno's Untouchables

By Viveca Novak

Over and over, Janet Reno has said that when it comes to whether or not to ask for an independent counsel to investigate Democratic campaign fund raising, she will rely on the judgment of the true-blue career lawyers in the Justice Department. Reno didn't budge even when it became known that FBI Director Louis Freeh advised her to opt for an independent counsel, saying she would stick with her gang of untouchables. So just who are these folks?

Laura Ingersoll, 45

The no-nonsense head of the special task force of roughly a dozen lawyers is a diplomat's daughter who grew up in Europe and South America. Some colleagues compare her to the rather prim Diane on Cheers. They also call her tenacious, smart and ethical. Though she has little experience doing major trials, she's handled corruption cases involving CIA employees. Just last year she extracted guilty pleas from four Agriculture Department employees who rounded up contributions from colleagues and subordinates for a pro-Clinton PAC.

Lee Radek, 54

A founding member of Justice's public-integrity section in the aftermath of Watergate, Radek supervises Ingersoll's team. An even-tempered, down-to-earth Chicago native, he is known for his street savvy, lawyerly acumen and good judgment. After suffering a heart attack in the early 1990s, he has slimmed down and forsaken the cheap cigars whose stench once pervaded the office. He is passionate about golf (but has little time to play), and his Elvis impersonations for the public-integrity support staff at Christmas are legendary.

Mark Richard, 58

Sometimes called "Bigfoot"--he is 6 ft. 7 in. and no ectomorph--this Brooklynite is the institutional conscience of the criminal division and the investigation's acting chief. He has spent almost his entire career at Justice and has had a hand in virtually all the department's major international cases: Noriega, Koreagate, Jonathan Pollard and the Nazi prosecutions. After a diagnosis several years ago of esophageal cancer that some surgeons deemed inoperable, he asked his doctors to gamble on a rare medical procedure that saved him. Colleagues gave him a glass-encased cigarette to keep the nicotine urges at bay.

Having A Wonderful Time...

Image: George Bush, globe-trotting foreign-policy President; Bill Clinton, domestically focused stay-at-home President. The reality, however, is that homeboy Bill has flitted about almost as much as cosmopolitan George. And with his first visit to Latin America last week, Clinton surpassed his predecessor. But in the First Lady frequent- flyer contest, peripatetic Hillary wins by many a mile over Barbara Bush, who was a veritable domestic shut-in. A comparison of the foreign trips each has headed:

Countries Visited Favorite Spots Visits Maiden Voyage Conspicuous Skips Common Stop
Bill 36 Russia, Italy, France, Israel, Canada 3 Canada China Costa Rica
George 35 France 4 Canada Israel Costa Rica
First Lady
Hillary 33 South Africa 2 Norway Russia Costa Rica*
Barbara 2 Canada 2 Canada The world Costa Rica
* Hillary only made it there with Bill last week

By Kathleen Adams, Janice M. Horowitz, Nadya Labi, Lina Lofaro, Emily Mitchell, Megan Rutherford And Alain L. Sanders

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