Patrick J. Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition and a leader of the militant anti-abortion group Operation Rescue, Wednesday established a legal defense fund for Paula Corbin Jones, the woman who has filed a lawsuit accusing President Clinton of sexual harassment.
Mahoney said he decided to create the fund after learning that White House aides were preparing a similar fund to help Clinton pay legal bills.
An avowed political opponent of the President, Mahoney has organized numerous protests against Clinton, including an attempt to present him with an aborted 15-week-old fetus and a nine-city “Impeach Clinton ’94" bus tour.
An ordained evangelical Christian minister, Mahoney said in an interview that he is aware his involvement could fuel accusations that the Jones lawsuit is merely a front for right-wing opponents of the President. Clinton attorney Robert S. Bennett and White House aides have charged that Jones’ suit is motivated by greed and is backed by conservatives with a political vendetta against Clinton.
But Mahoney said his appeal is designed to be “inclusive” and open to all who abhor mistreatment of women.
“Had we done this stealth-like,” Mahoney said, “it would have been found out and Bennett could have charged political cronyism” with the radical right. “That’s why we’re inviting in the feminist groups and anyone else who wants to be involved.”
Mahoney said he will solicit funds from the 10,000 members of his activist organization, from other conservative groups and from the audiences of Christian radio and television broadcasts.
He said he has discussed the fund with Jones and her husband, Steven, and has notified her attorneys about it. But he said he was not asked to raise money on her behalf.