Bill Clinton's Secret Pen Pal
Maybe there's hope for the Middle East after all. If former president Bill Clinton and the man who led the impeachment case against him can make peace, why not the Israelis and the Palestinians?
In one of the more startling revelations of strange Washington bedfellows, we've learned that Clinton and former Rep. James Rogan (R-Calif.), one of the 13 House managers who prosecuted the impeachment case against Clinton before the U.S. Senate, have been secret pen pals since 2001. Though perhaps more pen than pal.
Over the years, Rogan, now a judge on the California Superior Court, has sent photos he personally took of Clinton, flowers, rare campaign buttons -- even impeachment memorabilia intended for the Clinton presidential library in Arkansas -- to the 42nd president. Each time, sources familiar with the relationship say, the impeached has sent the impeacher a thank-you note.
It's almost as if Rogan has been slowly apologizing over the past decade for his role in impeaching Clinton, a role that cost Rogan his reelection defeat in 2000 ... and could well cost him a lifetime appointment to the federal bench.
More than ink, more than forgiveness, what Rogan needs now is his pen pal's blessing so that his nomination to the U.S. District Court in California can move forward. Until then, standing between Rogan and the federal bench is Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.). Other notable Democrats, including Willie Brown (the influential former mayor of San Francisco and speaker of the state Assembly) and a handful of current House California Democrats have endorsed Rogan's judicial nomination.
But Boxer remains steadfastly opposed and is using her home-state privilege to block the nomination. She declines to say whether her distaste for the impeachment crusade against Clinton has anything to with her opposition. Instead, her spokeswoman, Natalie Ravitz, tells The Sleuth that it's about Rogan's anti-liberal record on the environment, gun rights and labor.
"Further, he was rated 100 percent by the American Conservative Union, and in a moderate state like California, that is completely out of synch," Ravitz says.
Rogan backers say Boxer is reneging on her commitment to the Parsky Commission, California's bipartisan judicial selection panel. As Jason Roe, a former top aide to Rogan, puts it, "Boxer's proxies unanimously approved Judge Rogan, he has the highest possible ABA rating, and she's breaking her word because he isn't liberal enough?"
Roe and others say Rogan's relationship with Clinton began in January 2001 when Rogan, a collector and amateur photographer, snapped some photos at George W. Bush's inauguration of Clinton staring up at the Capitol building for one last look as leader of the free world. Rogan sent the photos to the potential future First Husband with a note that, according to one source who saw it, made a self-deprecating reference to his abilities as a photographer being no better than his abilities as an impeachment prosecutor. Clinton sent Rogan a handwritten thank you.
Some time later, when he was head of the U.S. Patent Office, Rogan would send buttons from his political collection to Clinton. And later, after reading that Clinton was collecting artifacts for his library in Little Rock, Rogan sent a package of impeachment memorabilia that included passes to Ken Starr's testimony before the House Judiciary Committee. Rogan wrote a note to Clinton explaining that he was sending the material for no other reason than historical value to be used in the Clinton library.
When Clinton underwent heart bypass surgery, Rogan sent Clinton flowers along with a copy of his book "Rough Edges," which touches on the impeachment saga. He joked in his note, "I hope this doesn't give your cardiologist angst." Clinton sent a form letter thank you back to Rogan, an evangelical Christian, with a personalized notation suggesting that Rogan needed to "pray" for his politics.
The last correspondence Rogan had with Clinton was earlier this year.
Lanny Davis, former special counsel to President Clinton, tells us he helped facilitate the friendly correspondence between Rogan and Clinton. Davis was a "Green Room" buddy of Rogan's from the cable TV circuit. He recalls that in one of his rare telephone chats with Clinton, sometime in 2005, the former president said to him, "Your friend Jim Rogan reached out to me."
Davis asked Clinton, "What did you do?" He remembers Clinton replying, "I reached back out to him."
Davis says Rogan also called him to say he and Clinton had been "exchanging notes." Rogan also mentioned his federal judicial nomination and worried that the Clintons would try to block it. Davis reminded Rogan of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's (N.Y.) professional friendship with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), another former House impeachment manager.
"People don't know Hillary. She forgives easily. ... The '90s are behind them and they don't want to retread the past," Davis said. "They really want to look forward, not back."
Clinton, through a spokesman at the Clinton Foundation, had no comment. Rogan declined to discuss his personal correspondence with Clinton but said they've agreed to let bygones be bygones.
"We're both retired political warriors," Rogan said. "Boxers, when the fight is over, are often the first to embrace in the ring and congratulate each other."
Mary Ann Akers
November 29, 2007; 1:00 AM ET
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