Tag Archives: scandal

Wisconsin corrections chief resigns amid youth prison investigation

Wisconsin Department of Corrections Secretary Ed Wall has resigned amid an investigation into allegations of abuse at the state’s youth prison, the governor’s office said as news emerged that the FBI had taken over the inquiry there.

Gov. Scott Walker’s staff says Wall submitted his letter of resignation Feb. 5.

He will be replaced by Jon Litscher, who served as the corrections secretary more than a decade ago.

The announcement follows the revelation that a judge sent a letter four years ago warning the governor of possible criminal conduct at the Lincoln Hills School in Irma. Walker spokeswoman Laurel Patrick has said the governor never saw the note and that it had been referred to the Corrections Department.

The state Department of Justice opened an investigation last year into allegations ranging from sexual assault to misconduct in public office.

“The FBI has transitioned from assisting in the investigation to leading the investigation,” FBI spokesman Leonard Peace said Friday. He said he couldn’t comment on the reason for the switch, since it was an ongoing federal matter.

Litscher has most recently worked as a school superintended in Cambria. He ran the Corrections Department from 1999-2003.

Wall said in his letter of resignation that “the time has come to turn the page for the Department of Corrections and step aside to allow a new person with fresh perspectives to lead the agency forward.” The letter makes no mention of the Lincoln Hills probe.

Appeals court hears arguments in Walker-related probe

Wisconsin prosecutors on Sept. 9 tried to persuade a federal appeals court to let them to resume their investigation of Gov. Scott Walker’s recall election campaign, in a case that touches on broader issues about just what constitutes constitutionally-protected political activity.

In more than 90 minutes of questioning, three judges on a panel at the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago didn’t give a clear indication of which way they might be leaning. But two of the three repeatedly broached questions about whether federal judges should intervene in what appeared to be a state matter.

When it comes to federal courts dictating to states about criminal investigations or anything else, Judge Frank Easterbook said, what precedent demands is, “Be modest. Be careful.”

The arguments in a downtown Chicago building took place two months before Walker – a Republican seen as a potential 2016 candidate for president – faces a closely contested re-election against Democrat Mary Burke.

Walker made a national name for himself when he took on public sector unions in 2011. That fight led to the 2012 vote to recall Walker, which he won. The recall battle ultimately led to the legal dispute now in the Chicago court.

No one has been charged in the investigation and prosecutors have said Walker isn’t a target. Republicans have dismissed it as a partisan witch hunt against conservative groups, while Democrats say it has revealed serious questions about possible illegal activity by Walker and his backers.

The case centers on the type of political activity done by the conservative groups during the recall campaign and whether that work required them to follow state laws that bar coordination with candidates, require disclosure of political donations and place limits on what can be collected.

Much of the arguments in the hearing this week focused on the intricacies of Wisconsin’s criminal system.

Easterbrook, who was appointed by Republican President Ronald Reagan, and Judge Diane Wood – named to the bench by Democrat Bill Clinton – both sounded skeptical about whether a federal court was justified in telling a state how to conduct criminal inquiries.

“I don’t understand why a federal court – at this micro-level – should be brought in,” Wood said.

Prosecutors, who opened the investigation in 2012, want the appeals court to reverse a preliminary decision halting the investigation in May and dismiss the federal civil rights lawsuit filed by the conservative Wisconsin Club for Growth and its director, Eric O’Keefe.

Wood said she was “troubled” about encouraging the notion that anyone unhappy about a state investigation targeting them can simply “come running across the street to a federal court” and ask a U.S. judge to stop it.

A lawyer for the conservative groups said his clients had little other recourse but to seek federal court intervention. He argued that prosecutors were trampling on rights protected by U.S. Constitution.

“The issue is our clients’ right … to be free of retaliation (for expressing) his First Amendment rights,” said attorney Mark DeLaquil.

In a court filing, prosecutors decried the lower-court ruling halting their investigation, saying it gave too much weight to the interests of well-funded, politically minded groups and not enough to the public interest.

On the surface, the composition of the three-judge panel hearing the case, with two Republican and one Democratic appointee – would appear to favor the conservatives. But judges are fiercely independent and their decisions frequently do not line up with the party of the president who appointed them.

The other judge on the panel is William Bauer, who was appointed by Republican President Gerald Ford in 1974.

The judges this week voiced similar reservations about federal court intervention when they heard arguments from a media attorney asking the panel to order a state judge to open now-seal documents in the investigation.

“We have to assume the Wisconsin judiciary knows Wisconsin law,” Easterbrook said. “You are asking us to… override Wisconsin law” about keeping investigative records secret.

Hear (and watch) women roar on new fall TV shows

“The Good Wife,” “Homeland,” “Scandal,” “Nurse Jackie” and, well, “Girls” are just a few current shows that put women front and center.

And this fall, even more women are stepping up.

As if TV programmers were in a classroom cribbing off one another’s exams, a few common themes emerge. One prevalent theme: the fantasy world of comic books and sci-fi, courtesy of newcomers “The Flash” (CW), “Gotham” (Fox), “Constantine” (NBC) and “Forever” (ABC). Spies and anti-terrorism also remain big in our heebie-jeebie era, with “Scorpion” (CBS) as well as a couple of the shows below.

But strong females are the dominant trend – and dominate in prime time this fall.

– “MADAM SECRETARY” (CBS, Sept. 21). Elizabeth McCord is a loving wife and mother and a brilliant former CIA analyst who is abruptly drawn back into public life as U.S. secretary of state after the incumbent’s suspicious death. Tea Leoni plays a woman who has it all – including growing concerns that she, too, may be on the endangered list.

– “THE MYSTERIES OF LAURA” (NBC; Sept. 24). Detective Laura Diamond doesn’t flinch, whether it’s flouting regulations to nab a bad guy or cooking up a scheme to get her twin boys into a private school. She’s always in a frenzy, forever creating waves, and mostly getting what she wants through sheer force of will. She is played by Debra Messing.

– “HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER” (ABC; Sept. 25). She is a thunderous presence in the classroom as she teaches law students how to spring their clients, whatever it takes. And in her law practice, she is a Machiavellian figure leading a team of top-flight students to help her tackle tough cases. As Annalise Keating, series star Viola Davis is powerful and often disturbing, never to be overlooked nor underestimated.

– “BAD JUDGE” (NBC; Oct. 2). Kate Walsh plays a woman who, in the courtroom, makes Judge Judy look like a pushover, then, after-hours, makes Snooki look like a wallflower. This is a woman who doesn’t hesitate to announce from the bench her relief that her pregnancy test has come up negative. The only way she could create more of a stir is if she were appointed to the Supreme Court (maybe Season 2?).

– “CRISTELA” (ABC, Oct. 10). This sitcom’s young heroine is working multiple jobs to fund her dream of becoming a lawyer. And when she gets slammed by her family for taking so long in law school, or for drinking the last beer in the fridge, she can return their salvos with equivalent gusto.

– “JANE THE VIRGIN” (CW, Oct. 13). Jane Villanueva is a radiant and ambitious young woman whose future is abruptly complicated when she learns that, despite her decision to wait, her virgin status has been compromised through an accidental sperm insemination. Now she faces yet another, very unexpected challenge – pregnancy – necessitating hard choices that will affect not only her life but also many others’ around her.

– “STATE OF AFFAIRS” (NBC, Nov. 17). CIA analyst Charleston Tucker is joining such past and present CIA heroines as Elizabeth McCord (“Madam Secretary”) and “Homeland” stalwart Carrie Mathison, but with her own specialty: compiling and delivering to the Oval Office the president’s Daily Briefing every morning. But Charleston’s bond with the chief executive is even tighter than this, since she used to be engaged to the president’s son – that is, until he was killed by a terrorist attack. And wouldn’t you know it: the president is a woman, too!

Wisconsin Club for Growth sues state election board

The Wisconsin Club for Growth filed a lawsuit Friday against the state board that oversees elections, arguing that it exceeded its authority and violated the group’s rights by investigating “virtually every conservative-leaning group in Wisconsin.”

The lawsuit, filed in Waukesha County Circuit Court, adds another layer to the already complex legal fight being waged by targets of the probe that focuses on Gov. Scott Walker’s recall campaign and a host of conservative advocacy groups.

U.S. District Judge Rudolph Randa earlier this month sided with Wisconsin Club for Growth in a separate federal lawsuit and ordered the investigation halted, saying it was a violation of the group’s free speech rights.

Prosecutors leading the investigation, which began in August 2012, have appealed that decision.

Wisconsin Club for Growth is an independent group that has spent $11.7 million to influence elections in the state for conservatives since 2007, according to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, which tracks spending.

The investigation, known as a John Doe, began in secret, but many details about it have since come to light primarily through court filings and Randa’s May 7 ruling. In that ruling, Randa said the investigation was looking into Walker’s recall committee and “all or nearly all right-of-center groups and individuals in Wisconsin who have engaged in issue advocacy from 2010 to the present.”

A spokesman for the Government Accountability Board, the target of the latest lawsuit from Wisconsin Club for Growth and its board member Eric O’Keefe, declined to comment Friday.

The GAB is empowered under state law with enforcing elections, ethics and lobbying laws. Former judges who comprise the nonpartisan board last year voted in secret to authorize the John Doe probe and hired a special investigator. The investigation encompassed five counties.

The lawsuit filed Friday alleges the investigation was an overreach of the board’s authority, saying it can only pursue civil violations or campaign laws and refer criminal cases to prosecutors. But the lawsuit alleges GAB illegally continued to pursue and pay for the investigation even after referring it to prosecutors, creating a “Frankenstein monster.”

“The result is terrible to behold: a creature that covertly collects sensitive information on political activities that do not — and cannot — constitute a crime, all the while maintaining a nearly impenetrable shield of secrecy,” said the lawsuit filed by lead attorney Todd Graves, a former federal prosecutor, in Kansas City.

The lawsuit, which requests a jury trial, alleges that the GAB has spent and continues to illegally spend taxpayer money on the probe and that the rights and procedural safeguards of Wisconsin Club for Growth and O’Keefe have been violated.

The lawsuit seeks an order stopping the GAB from any further involvement in the probe, requiring it to “dismember its Frankenstein monster and conduct only those activities for which it receives taxpayer dollars.”

This is the fourth state lawsuit filed in connection with the probe, in addition to the federal lawsuit.

Earlier this week a person close to the investigation told The Associated Press that Walker was speaking with prosecutors about settling the probe, activity that the Wisconsin Club for Growth said in a court filing could violate terms of the judge’s order halting the investigation.

Records released show Walker’s fundraising tactics

Newly released records show that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign partnered with a Republican lieutenant governor candidate in 2010 to tap wealthy donors who had already given all they could to Walker, a move designed to bolster their potential ticket.

The behind-the-scenes navigating of Wisconsin’s campaign finance laws by Walker staffers was revealed on Feb. 19 as part of the release of 28,000 pages of documents collected during a criminal investigation into one of the governor’s aides.

Walker, who faces re-election this year and is considering a run for president in 2016, was not charged with any wrongdoing in the investigation that closed last year with convictions against six of his former aides and associates.

Democrats are hoping Walker could be sunk by the investigation, which has shadowed him for years. But it was unsuccessfully used against him in his 2010 run for governor and recall attempts in 2012 — and it hasn’t hurt his fundraising ability. That gubernatorial race broke state spending records at $36 million, and the recall hit $81 million, largely because state laws limiting donations don’t apply until a recall election is officially set. That allowed Walker to collect checks as large as $500,000 from backers.

The newly released records show how Walker’s campaign was working closely with Republican lieutenant governor candidate Brett Davis’ campaign to milk all they could out of Walker’s supporters during his first run for governor, in 2010. The plan eventually fell apart because Davis lost in the primary election. Walker at the time was the Milwaukee County executive.

In one February 2010 email with a subject line of “Damn it,” Walker’s deputy chief of staff in his Milwaukee County office demands that Walker’s campaign manager, Keith Gilkes, provide her with a list of people who had maxed out their donations to Walker.

“Where’s my maxed out donor list?” Kelly Rindfleisch wrote. “Do I have to do everything?”

“Yeah, yeah – we are working on it,” Gilkes responded. “We don’t drop everything just to make Kelly happy in this office.”

Six days later, Walker’s deputy campaign manager supplied the donor list. And it’s clear from the emails that Rindfleisch at least didn’t care for Rebecca Kleefisch, who defeated Davis in the September 2010 primary and became Walker’s running mate for lieutenant governor, a position she still holds.

“Ugh, I just hate Becky,” Rindfleisch wrote in a March 30, 2010, email to Davis’s campaign manager Emily Loe.

Rindfleisch was convicted in 2012 of misconduct in office, a felony, for doing campaign work for Davis on government time while in Walker’s county executive office. Rindfleisch, who is appealing her conviction, was sentenced to six months in jail and three years of probation.

The records released on Feb. 19 were collected during the Rindfleisch investigation.

Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, in a conference call with reporters, attempted to link the investigation with scandals that have hit Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell.

“If these ethical scandals are the way (Republican governors) lead, that’s got to be something we all make sure voters pay attention to,” Wasserman Schultz said.

Walker said his political opponents would spin the records to their advantage, but he said the documents revealed no surprises.

Court records previously released showed that Walker’s aides in the county office set up a secret wireless router in his office to email one another about both country and campaign business. The newly released emails showed numerous examples of where Walker’s campaign workers were communicating during normal business hours with his county staff.

In one email, sent March 22, 2010, Walker’s administration director, Cynthia Archer, told Rindfleisch she could consider herself part of the “inner circle,” adding that she frequently used her private email account to communicate with Walker.

Walker told The Associated Press in November 2012 that he had built a firewall to ensure county workers were not ordered to do campaign work while on county time.

“Oftentimes, there’s not a distinction between asking a political question in the official office and the campaign office,” Walker said then. “All those things are things that need to be coordinated. There’s nothing wrong with that.”

Associated Press writers contributing to this report were M.L. Johnson and Taylor W. Anderson in Madison; Mike Cronin in St. Paul, Minn.; Doug Glass in Minneapolis; and Dinesh Ramde in Milwaukee.


Lesbian-themed ‘Blue’ arrives in U.S. with touch of scandal

“Blue is the Warmest Color” has arrived in the United States from France – and it’s bringing along some baggage.

On the plus side, the intense and soulful lesbian romance carries a Palme D’Or from Cannes, awarded not only to director Abdellatif Kechiche but, in a rare gesture, to his lead actresses, who received effusive praise from jury head Steven Spielberg. It’s also done boffo box office in France.

On the more complicated side, it carries a whiff of scandal – in the form of bitter post-Cannes remarks from the stars about their working conditions – most notably actress Lea Seydoux’s complaint in an interview that Kechiche made her feel “like a prostitute” during filming. Kechiche fired back that, well, maybe the movie just shouldn’t be released at all.

Which brings us to … oh yes! The sex scenes.

“Blue” features sex scenes that are hugely explicit for a feature film, including one that lasts close to 10 minutes. They’ve earned the film an NC-17 rating and even a ban at one movie theater in Boise, Idaho (its liquor license is tied to a law banning certain sexual images.) There’s also been discussion of whether the lesbian sex, however explicit, was as authentic as it could have been.

All this sex talk threatens, in the view of the film’s breakout star, Adele Exarchopoulos, to overpower reaction to the rest of the movie – which, at three hours long, has been praised by many as a singular achievement in its raw, visceral depiction of both the hypnotic power and horrible pain of a first love.

“You know, these scenes are just like the other ones, and we ask people to respect that,” says Exarchopoulos, 19, speaking in a recent interview at a Manhattan hotel, and employing a rather charming mix of confident and halting English. “I understand totally if you don’t like this scene or you are uncomfortable with it, because I know … I myself am too!

“Because we aren’t used to that – 10 minutes in a room with just two women loving each other. Usually in a movie you have two minutes, beautiful and sexy positions with nice lighting and nice music. Our scenes are more like life. But I do think people reduce the movie too much to these scenes.”

As for popular reaction in the United States, Exarchopoulos is, as they say, cautiously optimistic.

“People here are maybe more Puritan,” she says. “But we didn’t know before Cannes, either. When we saw Spielberg, we thought, this genius who made `E.T.,’ he will never love this movie, maybe it’s too raw. But then he said it was like the best love story he’d ever seen!”

Both Exarchopoulos and Seydoux, almost a decade her senior at 28, have been praised for their courage and their skill. But Exarchopoulos has been the revelation: She’s in virtually every frame of the film, which spans several years in the life of a young woman – not coincidentally, named Adele – in northern France. One day, she spies a blue-haired woman, Emma, on the street (hence the `Blue’ in the title) and is overpowered by the attraction she feels, something she’s never felt for a man, or anyone. It’s the story of an awakening: romantic, sexual, intellectual, even spiritual.

But the romance is tested by other forces: Class and culture. Emma is an artist, from a liberal, bohemian family. Adele comes from a more conservative background, and wants to be a teacher, rather than be the writer Emma wants her to be. The two ultimately clash, painfully and violently.

To hear Exarchopoulos talk, the devastating breakup scene was even harder than the sex scenes. Both actresses have said the director demanded take after take of a scene – including a good week of shooting the naked sex scenes. He’s said to have amassed hundreds of hours of footage.

“Yes, he did a lot, a lot, a lot of takes,” Exarchopoulos says. “And there were scenes we shot that didn’t make the movie, even MORE intense. Kechiche, he wanted to capture your soul.”

The Tunisian-born director acknowledges his exacting style.

“I never took 10 days to shoot a scene, but maybe five days, yes,” he says. “It was a question of the acting – sometimes I wasn’t happy with what was going on, so I had to work until I got something I was satisfied with.”

As for Seydoux’s particularly harsh comments, Kechiche adds a mysterious footnote: “I think what happened after Cannes was orchestrated by people who are not really out for my wellbeing. I think Lea in particular was manipulated by these people.” (Seydoux was not in New York to promote the film.)

One thing Kechiche takes back, though, is his frustrated remark to the French magazine Telerama in September that the film maybe shouldn’t be released at all. “I had that spontaneous response at the moment of the interview,” he said. “It wasn’t more thought out than that. But now, when I feel bitter, I remember that the film did after all get the Palme d’Or – and from a mythical director, Steven Spielberg.”

Exarchopoulos, who clearly has a huge future, says she wishes the recriminations – she, too, made complaints – had stayed behind the scenes. She says she might even work with Kechiche again – “but not yet.”

“Some directors take three takes, and they don’t even watch you,” she says. “I prefer someone who asks a lot of me, but gives a lot.”

In the end, she has no regrets, Exarchopoulos says. And she’s looking ahead – to success, but failure, too.

“Nothing is guaranteed,” she says. “And failure is important, too. I have a lot to prove to myself.”

“I am only 19,” she adds. “I am going to enjoy it all.”

On the Web …

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y2OLRrocn3s

The private eye in Washington who has seen it all

What can we say about Terry Lenzner, a curious hybrid of Harvard-trained lawyer and dirt-digging Washington private eye?

That he braved the Klan as a federal attorney investigating the murders of three civil rights workers in Mississippi during “Freedom Summer.”

That he paid janitors to obtain trash containing Microsoft secrets and supplied them to a tech-billionaire rival of Bill Gates.

That as the Senate Watergate Committee’s deputy counsel, he served a subpoena on Richard Nixon, demanding the White House turn over the tapes.

That he investigated the personal lives of women bringing sexual-misconduct allegations against President Bill Clinton.

That he was held hostage by Geraldo Rivera, then a radical young lawyer, but Don Rumsfeld came to the rescue.

(Whew.)

And, finally, that he has written a memoir, “The Investigator,” which covers a remarkable 50-year career with periods of both light and shadow. Published Oct. 8, it is a time capsule of adventuresome sleuthing and traces the contours of U.S. political history.

Lenzner, according to many in the private investigation business, helped to reinvent the trade, wedding it firmly to a high-paying world of corporate, political and legal clients. He founded the Investigative Group International, which grew into a well-regarded operation with employees nationwide and around the world.

“He changed it into a white-collar profession from the days of the old guys with a cheap suit and a bad haircut, the old gumshoe thing. It’s now more polished,” said Nancy Swaim, who worked as an investigator in the firm’s Los Angeles office for more than seven years.

“Scorch the earth,” Lenzner was known to tell his private investigators. His firm is legendary for its “opposition research” probes – political or otherwise – that expose unseen connections, surface uncomfortable facts and bore in on people’s blemishes.

A relentless perfectionist, he could inspire dread in his employees – and his investigative targets. But a soul-searcher he isn’t.

“I can’t think of anything I would say I really regretted that I did it,” he says during an interview one morning on the back patio of his custom-built, modernist Cleveland Park home. Lenzner is 74 now, and the dedicated lifelong athlete – football, tennis, basketball – is suffering from a bad back, using a cane.

He speaks slowly, with a calculated deliberation accrued over decades of lawyering.

Never done anything wrong?

“I can guarantee that I did some things wrong, and I could go back and do another book on all my mistakes,” he says, but he won’t be doing that.

The former federal prosecutor seems to enjoy a tough interrogation. The cool, leafy calm of the morning is periodically brutalized by the roar of a chain saw as it chews through a neighbor’s trees.

“That’s appropriate background music,” he says, and smiles ever so slyly.

The life of Terry Falk Lenzner – father of three, married 45 years, pal of top politicos – could have been as typical as any other Washington insider’s. But starting with his first government job at Bobby Kennedy’s Justice Department 50 years ago, Lenzner’s career has a cinematic sweep.

It’s worth mentioning four movies. His life or his firm intersects with all of them.

First up, “Love Story,” a double-hankie romance set on the Harvard campus from 1970. The back story:

Lenzner, born in 1939, grew up in Manhattan in a well-to-do but troubled household. His father, a dentist, was unpredictable, sometimes violent and “often angry,” Lenzner writes in the book. His mother came from a wealthy New York family.

His father pushed Terry to play varsity football in the Ivy League, as he had done; the son ended up playing at the prep school Phillips Exeter Academy and later Harvard, and captained both teams.

As an undergraduate in Cambridge – he enrolled in 1958 – Lenzner also got to know Erich Segal, a brilliant classics professor and writer. Segal was a tutor at Harvard’s Dunster House, where Lenzner lived. They became friends. “We worked out together, went to the weight room, had dinner and lunch together,” recalls Lenzner.

In the novel “Love Story” and the screenplay – Segal wrote both – the character of Oliver Barrett IV had an athletic bent and a very difficult father. Oliver attended Exeter and Harvard and graduated from Harvard Law.

Oliver played hockey, and in the book, his height and weight are exactly the same as Lenzner’s.

Then there’s a 1996 letter to Lenzner from the late Segal.

“For the record, I hereby declare that you were the model for Oliver Barrett IV in Love Story,” Segal wrote.

It’s a bit weird. In 1997, Al Gore told reporters that he and his wife, Tipper, had been the inspiration for the central couple in Segal’s tale.

Lenzner said he couldn’t get into specifics about the letter. The late writer could have borrowed a “percentage” of Lenzner’s personal history, he says. “My view, very honestly, is that I was not the model for Oliver.”

Yet he didn’t hide the possibility that he was. It would become office lore at IGI.

Lenzner went directly to Harvard Law after college. When he graduated, he could have minted money as a corporate lawyer, but he said he felt disenchanted by his intern work at a Manhattan firm. Instead, in 1964, on the recommendation of a senior lawyer there – the great-grandson of abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison – he joined the civil rights division at Justice.

Which brings us to “Mississippi Burning,” the 1988 movie about FBI agents in the bloody early 1960s civil rights period when Lenzner was on the ground gathering evidence about the three activists’ murders, staring down violent racists who didn’t want blacks to vote. Besides working in Mississippi, he also ran the grand jury investigating the “Bloody Sunday” beatings of marchers at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala.

Lenzner himself faced considerable risk. Checking into motels, he said, he would ask for a room in the back of the building. If there was only one facing the road, the young lawyer would hoist the mattress from the bed and prop it against the large plate-glass window.

You never know who might try to shoot you.

“After a while, you did get a little paranoid,” Lenzner recalls. He got used to sleeping on the floor.

Two other films capture the dark and light sides of Lenzner’s work at IGI during the 1990s. Both are reality-based and touch on the firm’s stock in trade: data-gathering and background checks often sought by white-collar clients.

There’s “The Insider,” about Jeffrey Wigand, an executive at the Brown & Williamson tobacco firm who defected and became a whistleblower. He’s the movie’s protagonist, bent on revealing dangers of tobacco that many manufacturers denied. In the mid-‘90s, he and his former employer were embroiled in litigation.

In real life, Lenzner’s firm – working for B&W’s attorneys – compiled a 500-page dossier, portraying Wigand as a serial liar and petty crook, that B&W leaked to the Wall Street Journal. It backfired.

“A close look at the file, and independent research by this newspaper into its key claims, indicates that many of the serious allegations against Mr. Wigand are backed by scant or contradictory evidence. Some of the charges – including that he pleaded guilty to shoplifting – are demonstrably untrue,” the Journal reported.

Some who know Lenzner remain disappointed that his company allied with Big Tobacco, especially given his history in the Watergate hearings of encouraging truth-tellers to come forward.

“When I worked with Terry, I had the highest regard for his integrity and his instinct for the public good. I never thought he would take on a case where he would not be on the right side,” said the author Scott Armstrong, an investigator with Lenzner on the Watergate Committee who also worked as a consultant to IGI. “That was the Rubicon he crossed. The Wigand dossier produced by IGI shocked me.”

Lenzner’s book ignores the tobacco case except for a brief aside. But in an email, he offered this:

“A senior employee brought the case to me, described what the client wanted and on the face of it, the request appeared to be legitimate. In essence they were asking for basic research on an individual, which is something we do all the time. If I had had the full context of the client’s goals, I might well have reconsidered undertaking the assignment.”

Finally, there’s “Shattered Glass,” a movie about New Republic plagiarist Stephen Glass: The magazine hired IGI to investigate his fabrications. It needed the kind of rigorous search for truth Lenzner was famed for.

In their sweep of Glass’s computer, IGI experts established clear evidence. Lenzner said he also came across a freelance piece Glass had done for the now-defunct George magazine, about Washington “power players.”

The article helped seal Lenzner’s conclusions. One of the players was Lenzner himself.

“I guess it need not be said that Glass had never interviewed me and that many of the things he said about me were invented,” Lenzner writes.

Lenzner set up IGI in 1984 with three investigative reporters (including two from The Washington Post) and grew the business by bringing in diverse talent: FBI and CIA veterans, financial fraud experts, mergers and acquisitions specialists, lawyers and journalists worked side by side.

“You had this whole range of expertise you could tap into,” said Swaim, the L.A. private eye. “High quality … high class.”

With his Watergate fame and fascinating background, Lenzner loomed larger than life among fresh-faced employees. Although known as a browbeater, he had stridden through history.

“He had an aura,” said Alex Kramer, who joined IGI in 1990 and stayed for a year. “I know people had incidents with him, but he also gave people great opportunities.”

Contact 10 or so ex-employees, and those willing to say anything at all are inclined to speak anonymously, not wanting to publicly cross the hot-tempered Lenzner, even many years later – and even though some profess great admiration for their former boss.

“He is one of the smartest people I’ve ever met,” said Andrew Fox, an investigator who worked at IGI for 10 years. “But his ego drives the ship. I know people have left angry. But that’s not anything necessarily different from any other workplace.”

Today the firm has been outflanked by competitors doing similar white-collar work and has downsized from 75 employees in its heyday to a core of 25.

IGI gained considerable notoriety during the late 1990s, when Lenzner worked for President Clinton’s attorneys on the impeachment case. Some articles have criticized IGI’s investigative tactics; for example, methods for obtaining phone numbers and credit records.

In recent interviews, some ex-employees said they obtained such records from “information brokers,” whose information-gathering techniques were sometimes called into question. The practice was widespread among PIs; only later would federal laws protect such material.

Lenzner emphatically denies that the firm ever accessed or used anything but materials in the public domain – otherwise they couldn’t be used in court. And, he says, no one at the company ever violated legal boundaries.

“It would have been suicide for us to have done anything to step out of line the slightest bit,” he said, noting that he is a lawyer and that many of his clients are, too. “And we never did.”

David Fechheimer, 72, a legendary San Francisco private eye who did various projects for Lenzner’s company, said he admired its investigative creativity.

“IGI believed in street work and human contact,” he said. “And they would take risks; not legal risks, but the risks of getting caught. They would mount interesting undercover and sting operations.”

When the boss ordered people to “scorch the earth” for information, they did. “It was an amazing, intense three years,” said Philip Davis, an Alexandria researcher who worked as a forensic accountant at IGI. “You came out of there thinking, ‘I can find anything.’”

How volcanic was the boss?

“Calling him General Patton on steroids is not overstating him,” Davis said. “But I love Terry Lenzner. Terry’s toughness made me sharper. … Talk about jumping into the fire wearing a suit made of newspapers.”

There is no lack of movie-worthy scenes from Lenzner’s life story, moments of both high drama and absurd circumstance, even if all of them won’t reach the screen.

“Yes, I held him hostage, it’s true,” said Geraldo Rivera, the Fox News host, of his historic collision with Lenzner 44 years ago.

Again, the back story:

After his work in the Justice Department, including a stint as an organized-crime prosecutor in New York, Lenzner took another Washington job in 1969. A Democrat, he went to work for Richard Nixon’s White House – the political equivalent of walking into a threshing machine.

Lenzner was brought into the Office of Economic Opportunity by its chief, Donald Rumsfeld, who had a spot in the president’s Cabinet.

“I had an instant rapport with him,” Lenzner writes of Rumsfeld.

But the future secretary of defense wasn’t digging the vibe at the anti-poverty agency, a Johnson administration creation; Che Guevara’s face adorned posters on the walls, Rumsfeld later wrote disapprovingly.

It fell to the 29-year-old Lenzner to supervise 2,200 Legal Services Program lawyers who were aggressively filing suits on behalf of the poor – battling police violence, protecting the rights of blacks and migrant workers, and taking cases that generally bedeviled the Establishment.

Republican governors like Ronald Reagan in California complained of being sued by shaggy-haired radicals paid by Washington. Nixon grew unhappy with the whole Lenzner-headed operation. Some minority lawyers attached to the program weren’t happy, either. This is where Rivera, then a chairman of the Black and Brown Lawyers Caucus, comes in.

One August day in 1969, he was one of about 50 newly graduated lawyers, many from Howard University, who decided to occupy the building at 19th and M streets that housed the Office of Economic Opportunity and Legal Services.

They wanted $1 million for a Legal Services fellows program at Howard.

“We did it on the fly,” Rivera recalls. “Once we got there, I don’t recall that we intended to keep Secretary Rumsfeld captive, or Terry, who we liked.”

Rumsfeld instructed Lenzner to escort the protesters to a conference room and hear them out. Lenzner did. Then they wouldn’t let him leave.

Into the room charged Rumsfeld, the former wrestler. “I took Lenzner’s arm and told him we were leaving,” Rumsfeld recounted in his memoir. But the protesters wouldn’t let Lenzner go.

“I’d say Terry was friendly, but he was representing the Man,” Rivera noted.

Eventually Rumsfeld summoned the cops. “I was later told that I had caused the arrest of the major fraction of the graduating class of Howard Law School,” he wrote.

About a year later, as heat from the White House grew, Rumsfeld fired Lenzner. But there was no venom. They remain friendly to this day.

Dissolve to the back patio.

Lenzner, who has suffered from heart problems, seems mellower now. But he isn’t ready to completely loosen his gasp as IGI’s chairman. He loves what he does too much, he says, to think about fully retiring. In the past, potential successors have been brought in, only to end up leaving. Yet he admits that he has never been good at running a business.

Lenzner recently brought in his son, Jonathan, a former federal prosecutor, to join senior management. (It should be noted that Jonathan Lenzner is married to a Post reporter.)

As is true of many autobiographies, Lenzner’s book tends to burnish the victories, elide the defeats, settle scores, ignore his critics or dismiss them.

But “The Investigator” establishes his legacy – and something more. “The book is intended to reflect lessons learned and stories about human nature,” he said.

Here’s something to consider. Terry Lenzner has been called one of the most feared men in Washington.

“That’s a compliment,” he says. The chain saw is still going.

Information from: The Washington Post, http://www.washingtonpost.com

Story via The Associated Press


Lloyd Webber’s new show mines ’60s sex and scandal

He’s done the Bible, felines, operatic phantoms and Argentine politics. So what is Andrew Lloyd Webber’s latest musical about?

Sex – as well as politics, spying, social revolution and the Cold War.

“Stephen Ward” centers on a sensational real-life scandal, the 1963 revelation that Britain’s war secretary, John Profumo, was involved with model Christine Keeler, who was also sleeping with a Soviet naval attache.

The “Profumo affair” rattled Britain’s establishment and fascinated that nation.

But Lloyd Webber says the show, which opens in London in December, is about more than the scandal – it’s a portrait of a “febrile time” of tumultuous social change.

At a preview of songs from the musical this week, the “Phantom of the Opera” composer said, “It’s just extraordinary, really, the ramifications of what went on.”

‘Good Wife’ star empathizes with Weiner’s spouse

Julianna Margulies says playing a wronged political wife on TV gives her compassion for what Anthony Weiner’s spouse is going through.

Watching Huma Abedin stand by New York mayoral candidate Weiner aka Carlos Danger at a recent news conference reminded Margulies of how she played a similar scene in “The Good Wife” pilot.

Marguilies says she feels empathy for Abedin, a former aide to Hillary Rodham Clinton, because people are quick to judge and comment.

But “The Good Wife” star said sexting scandals like the one involving Weiner are the gift that keeps on giving for the CBS drama, keeping the show fresh.

It’s a reaction that makes her feel slightly guilty, Margulies told the Television Critics Association on Monday.

“The Good Wife” starts its fifth season Sept. 29 on CBS.

NBC planning miniseries about Hillary Clinton

NBC is planning a miniseries about Hillary Rodham Clinton, former first lady and secretary of state and 2008 presidential candidate.

USA Today reports that actress Diane Lane will star as Clinton in the series. The role of Bill Clinton hasn’t been cast.

The series will begin in 1988, midway through Bill Clinton’s second term, with the rise of the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

USA Today said Courtney Hunt is writing and directing the four-hour project.

Hillary Clinton has not said whether she will seek the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016.