Fugitive financier Peter F. Paul has sued Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton in Superior Court here, claiming they defrauded him and exposed him to possible prosecution for violating campaign finance laws. Paul, who lives in Calabasas, fled to Brazil as a federal grand jury in New York indicted him last week for securities fraud in connection with his entertainment company.
In the 25-page lawsuit against the Clintons, Paul says he paid $1.9 million out of his own pocket for a lavish Hollywood tribute to the president at a private Brentwood estate on the eve of the Democratic National Convention. The Aug. 12 bash raised money for Hillary's Senate campaign. Paul, 52, says he also paid for or arranged other Clinton fund-raisers attended by Hollywood celebrities in 2000, including a February dinner at Cafe des Artistes and a June event at Spago Beverly Hills. But Hillary's campaign did not report his contributions, the suit alleges.
Paul never believed he "might run afoul of federal campaign finance laws," the court papers say. Instead, he "accurately" believed it was the responsibility of Hillary's campaign "to determine the legality of his contributions, and to report and allocate them in an appropriate and lawful manner."
There was no immediate comment from the Clintons. But when controversy arose in August over Paul's criminal past, a spokesman for Hillary said he had made only a $2,000 contribution, which was returned. Paul received a "nominal" fee for producing the Hollywood tribute, according to the spokesman. Paul's suit disputes that version of events.
Paul served 30 months in federal prison and was suspended from practicing law after pleading guilty in 1979 to possessing cocaine and trying to swindle $8.7 million from the Cuban government. Paul's suit casts a different spin, saying the charges arose "out of anti-Communist activities against the government of Cuba and its dictator, Fidel Castro."
The suit states that Paul spent money on the Clintons, in part, to entice the president to work for Stan Lee Media after leaving office. Paul co-founded the Internet-based entertainment company in 1999 with Stan Lee, the legendary creator of comic book characters Spider Man, the Incredible Hulk and the X-Men. The company filed for bankruptcy in February.
Paul says in the suit that he had hoped for presidential perks, including a stay in the Lincoln bedroom, a weekend at Camp David, Kennedy Center honors and Presidential Medal of Freedom for Lee, an invitation to Clinton's last official state dinner at the White House and the president's participation in a worldwide broadcast of the Hollywood Christmas Parade. He also wanted a presidential pardon. He wound up with zip.
The suit, accusing the Clintons of fraud, conspiracy and unjustly enriching themselves, was filed by retired L.A. prosecutor Sterling Norris and Larry Klayman, both of the conservative group Judicial Watch, a longtime Clinton nemesis.
Norris said negotiations are underway with the U.S. Attorney's office to return Paul to the United States. "He's cooperative," Norris said. "But, these are still Clinton appointees."
The Hollywood photo-op of the day was too, too cute. A movie star cat and dog were trotted out Wednesday at the Egyptian Theater to leave their paw prints in cement, just like famous people do at Mann's Chinese Theater.
The event was staged to promote the upcoming Warner Bros. movie "Cats and Dogs," which is basically about a battle between felines and canines over control of the world.
But while the human actors, like co-stars Sean Hayes and Joe Pantoliano, were fully capable of controlling themselves , the animals were more unpredictable. Let's just say that a puddle was discovered. Everyone blamed the cat, which is burdened with the name Mr. Tinkles.
Homecoming of Sorts
Foodie queen Julia Child, who grew up in Pasadena, has told the Boston Globe that she's leaving New England for Montecito. Child, 88, will take up residence at a retirement community called Casa Dorinda in November. She's handing over her house, where she wrote "Mastering the Art of French Cooking," and its famed kitchen, to alma mater Smith College. Child and her late husband, Paul, bought the five-bedroom house in Massachusetts for $35,000 in the late 1960s.
The Stork Report
It's another boy for Ricki Lake and husband Rob Sussman. Lake gave birth Monday in the family bath tub in New York to Owen Tyler Sussman, who weighed 8 pounds 7 ounces. The 32-year-old TV chat show host explained in a statement: "I wanted to 'give birth' as opposed to 'being delivered,' and the best way for me to do that was at home with the guidance of a professional midwife." The couple's first child, Milo, is 4.
We're just getting word of two celebrity kidlets born in L.A.. Actress Joely Fisher, of "Ellen" fame, and husband Christopher Duddy, have a new, 6-pound 3-ounce daughter. Skylar Grace Fisher-Duddy was born last Thursday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Fisher, 33, and Duddy, 39, have been married for 41/2 years. Fisher has two sons from a previous marriage.
Lisa Rinna, known for her role as a scheming "Melrose Place" vixen and her actor husband Harry Hamlin, of "L.A. Law" fame, welcomed 7-pound 3-ounce daughter Amelia Gray into the world last Wednesday. It was the couple's second child. Hamlin also has a son from a previous relationship with actress Ursula Andress.
Times staff writers Gina Piccalo and Louise Roug contributed to this column. City of Angles runs Tuesday-Friday. E-mail: email@example.com.