Did Larry Klayman, the conservative lawyer/provocateur who spent much of the 1990s suing Clinton-related targets via his Judicial Watch and accusing the Bill-and-Hillary crowd of vast corruptions, recently try to skirt campaign-finance law to obtain an illegal million-dollar boost for his back-of-the-pack US Senate campaign in Florida? Klayman is litigious. Newsweek reported in 1998 that he had even sued his mother during a family spat. So let’s just lay out the facts, and readers can reach their own conclusions.
Some background: Klayman started Judicial Watch in 1994 and became famous–in a cable TV sort of way–by filing what seemed like thousands of lawsuits against Clintonites. His work (some might call it shenanigans) was partly underwritten by Richard Mellon Scaife, the right-wing millionaire. And Richard Viguerie, the direct-mail titan of the right, raised money for Judicial Watch. Klayman also represented the Miami relatives of Elián González in a lawsuit against the Justice Department, and he involved himself in the Florida recount mess. In recent years he expanded his hit list. Judicial Watch joined the Sierra Club in suing Vice President Cheney for records of Cheney’s energy task force, and it launched a lawsuit against Cheney and Halliburton for alleged accounting fraud (a federal court dismissed the case). But Klayman also stuck to his bread and butter, representing Gennifer Flowers, who filed a suit claiming Hillary Clinton had tried to destroy her, and supporting a businessman charged with stock and bank fraud who claimed he secretly made illegal campaign contributions to Hillary Clinton.
On September 23, Klayman left Judicial Watch, which issued a terse three-sentence statement that could be read as a sign that the parting had not been amicable. That day, Klayman announced he was running for the US Senate from Florida and that he intended to be Hillary Clinton’s “worst nightmare.” He joined a large field of Republicans seeking this seat, a group that now includes former Housing Secretary Mel Martinez, former US Representative Bill McCollum, Florida House speaker Johnnie Byrd, former US Senator Bob Smith, State Senator Daniel Webster and businessman Doug Gallagher. In a recent poll, Klayman was at 4 percent.
In the first three months of Klayman’s campaign, he raised $610,555, mostly through direct-mail fundraising conducted by Viguerie’s American Target Advertising, according to Federal Election Commission records. In this period Klayman paid ATA $577,358. That is, the revenue barely covered the direct-mail cost–not good news for any campaign. And a report prepared in late January by ATA noted that the Klayman campaign had sent out slightly more than 1 million pieces at a cost of $730,315 and brought in $703,155.
Viguerie was using an assortment of conservative mailing lists, yet Klayman was scoring reasonably well mainly with those from Judicial Watch, according to ATA records. These Judicial Watch lists, though, were several years old, and mailing lists tend to deteriorate quickly. Klayman’s direct-mail program could not rely on the older lists. One obvious answer was to rent Judicial Watch’s up-to-date lists. Sources familiar with the campaign say Klayman told campaign workers he had tried that, unsuccessfully. (Tom Fitton, Judicial Watch’s current president, denies Klayman made such a request.) But in search of a productive mailing list, Klayman, according to a lawsuit filed against him by a former campaign employee, also came up with an unorthodox remedy.