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Elizabeth Dole's Skeleton Closet

Picture of Liddy Dole

Ms. Dole is quite a character. They may be no other woman in American history as ambitious and as effective at meeting her ambitions. In addition to the material here, you may find it interesting to read Bob Dole's Skeleton Closet page; they have been married for 25 years, sharing political and financial ambitions, and while you can't pin all of Bob's scandals on Liddy, it's unlikely that he has made any major decisions during that time that she was unaware of.

Click on the allegation of your choice:

-- Big Payoffs From Corporations for "Speeches"
-- Inside Deal on Exclusive Luxury Condo
-- Political Favors for Big Contributors
-- Character: Hillary II?
-- One Tough Cookie
-- Lack of Loyalty
-- What Does She Stand For?
-- Quotes
-- Sources

Bought and Sold: Political Favors for Big Campaign Contributors

It's hard to separate Bob and Elizabeth Dole on this issue, since they have been married for 25 years, share the same political ambitions and of course share their money. Elizabeth has never held elected office, so she has not had the ability to rake in money the way Bob is legendary for.

But in fact, she has done much more than share the political and monetary rewards of Bob Dole's intensive fundraising. In many cases, she has been the recipient of money from Bob's political allies that would have been illegal or blatantly unethical if he accepted it directly.

Bob Dole was a genius of money-grubbing, raking in $500,000 a week in 1995, even before his 1996 presidential campaign began in earnest. He raised the legal limit of $37.5 million in campaign contributions by March of the 1996 election year. And Elizabeth Dole has made no secret of the fact that she intends to inherit Bob's fundraising network.

Beyond direct contributions, Bob Dole worked out several hidden ways get money from special interests, and most of them involved or benefitted Elizabeth: free or low-cost flights on corporate jets, contributions to foundations, PACs and charities he controls, a sweetheart deal on a luxury condo, and money given directly to Elizabeth Dole and her charities. When Senators were allowed to receive payments for giving speeches, Dole spoke often and very profitably. That was banned, so Elizabeth began speaking to many of the same special interests and lobbying groups Dole spoke to. Her speeches -- worth $875,000 just during 1994-6 -- erupted into scandal when her promise to donate the money to charity was proven phony. And remember, that money did not go into campaign coffers, but directly went into Elizabeth Dole's bank accounts.

Who gave the Doles all this money? A bunch of special interests who sought -- and got -- political favors from Bob Dole. Major benefactors include agribusiness mogul Dwayne Andreas, Koch Industries, a family owned Kansas oil company whose owners are worth $4.7 BILLION; Cincinatti banana billionaire Carl Lindner (who also has given money to George Bush, Jr.),Fisher Brothers real estate, and several natural gas companies -- Arco, Amoco, Coastal and Enron -- who enjoyed a special tax break that Bob Dole promoted, even though it hurt Kansas' independent natural gas producers. But you don't need to be a billionaire to get favors from Dole. Even an obscure rabbi from Brooklyn got millions of dollars in federal Agency for International Development money after Dole and his staff pushed hard for his proposal. All it took was $100,000 in contributions and some diligent work as a Dole fund-raiser. (For details on these donors, see Bob Dole's Skeleton Closet.)

Now granted, none of Elizabeth's opponents (who have ever held office) are in a position to criticize the Doles, including Vice President Gore (whose fundraising success got him in so much trouble.) But Bob Dole did this far more often and blatantly than anyone else. Dole was so successful that Bill Clinton's two biggest Arkansas donors -- Tyson Foods and Stephens, Inc. Investments - switched their funding to him. If these sources fund Elizabeth's campaign, they will do so based on a history of giving to her or to Bob and receiving political favors.

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Case Study - Dwayne Andreas & Archer Daniels Midland

How does this all work? Look at the example of Dwayne Andreas, and the company he runs, Archer Daniels Midland company -- Bob Dole's major benefactors. (Archer Daniels is an agricultural giant that recently settled government charges of price-fixing and bribery by paying $25 million in fines).

What did the Doles received? Bob got hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign money, plus dozens of flights on ADM's jets at little or no cost, plus speaking fees, and large donations to his special foundations set up to evade donation limits, including $100,000 to the Better America Foundation.

And Elizabeth Dole made out pretty well, too. Shortly after she took over the Red Cross, ADM gave a solid million dollars to the Red Cross, which certainly made her job easier. Plus, Bob and Liddy enjoy an exclusive luxury condo in Florida that Dwayne Andreas helped them get. And ADM gave $1,572,268 in "soft money" to the Republican Party. I'm sure Bob and Liddy have received more, but this much is clearly documented.

What has Archer Daniels received? Lots. Bob Dole helped arrange and protect a $3.5 BILLION tax credit for ethanol (54 cents per gallon.) Archer Daniels makes 60% of this ethanol and receives $2 billion directly from this tax credit. (They also have given Clinton $270,000 and he has helped the company as well.) Bob Dole's own office issued a press release in 1995 calling him "Senator Ethanol." In 1990, Bob Dole held a trade bill hostage until the House agreed to extend the ethanol tax credit, and put duties on imported ethanol. In 1991, he added an amendment to a highway bill making it harder for refiners to supply methanol, the chief competitor of ethanol. In 1993, he pushed the Bush Administration into issuing new regulations that increased the role of ethanol in government clean air programs.

Dole has defended his role in ethanol by saying it helps Kansas farmers, who produce a lot of corn, and the press has generally bought this argument. But ethanol accounts for a tiny percentage of corn use, and many economists doubt that the ethanol program has any effect on corn prices at all.

Besides ethanol, Bob Dole has delivered a lot to ADM. He used his considerable clout to protect price supports on sugar, which make ADM's competitive product -- corn syrup --more profitable. He got ADM board member Jack Vanier's daughter a job with the federal Agriculture Department in 1988, and hired Andreas' granddaughter himself in 1994. Way back in 1971, according to a Nixon White House memo, Andreas' son-in-law got an EPA job after Bob "absolutely insisted" on it. And Dole supports the Export Enhancement Program, a corporate subsidy that gave ADM more than $134 million between 1985 and 1995.

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Inside Deal on Exclusive Luxury Condo

Elizabeth and Bob Dole got a sweetheart deal on a condo in an exclusive development, the Seaview, in Bal Harbour, Florida, where they vacation frequently. First of all, you cannot even buy there unless the board and existing members -- an assortment of Washington political and media heavies, including ADM boss Dwayne Andreas, millionaire lawyer-lobbyist Robert Strauss, lawyer-lobbyist (and former GOP Senate leader) Howard Baker, and David Brinkley -- approve you. None of the 220 units hav been sold in the last 5 years, since one of existing residents bought a second for their kids. Secondly, the Dole's got a bargain price, tens of thousands of dollars below market value -- only $150,000. Just 3 months earlier, another condo of the same size, but in a worse part of the building, sold for $40,000 more.

Guess who sold them the condo and approved the purchase, as head of the board of directors? A company controlled by Bob's old friend Dwayne Andreas, for whom Bob has done several major political favors. Incredibly, the Dole's claim they didn't know who they bought the condo from. -- Back to the top -- Sources

Liddy Dole's $875,000 in Payoffs for "Speeches"

Elizabeth Dole likes to point out that she didn't take her first year's salary ($200,000) as head of the Red Cross. She can be that generous because she earns hundreds of thousands of dollars each year for speeches, many of which were made to lobbyists trying to influence Bob Dole. From 1991 to 1994, Liddy earned $875,000 from giving speeches (at $12,000 to $35,000 each) on volunteerism. She also got many trips to resort locations, all expenses paid.

Granted, Mrs. Dole is a national figure in her own right. But so are lots of people who don't get paid $35,000 to lecture lobbyists about volunteering for charities. At least 16 of the groups have lobbying offices in or near Washington, AND had business pending before Congress at the time of her "speech."

Some of the groups even admit they hired her to influence her husband. Pat Areno, an executive of the Building Owners Association, paid her $20,000 plus expenses for a speech and said -- about her husband's job -- "That certainly makes her a little more interesting, definitely. You can't ignore that it's a factor. That is certainly part of her draw and appeal."

The spokeswoman for the American Health Care Association (which lobbies Congress on behalf of nursing homes) said "I suppose her connection with the senator helps create a visibility and makes her attractive" though she insists that wasn't why they paid her $20,000 for a speech.The spokesman for the travel agents' association was more blunt. When asked why they paid Liddy $35,000 and paid all expenses for a 20 minute speech in Portugal, he said "Certainly, being the wife of, at that time, the minority leader of the Senate made her a very attractive property to bring to Lisbon." And just 3 months after that speech, in February of 1995, Dole actively supported the travel agents group in a dispute with airlines, writing a letter to the Assistant US Attorney General demanding an antitrust investigation of the airlines.

Speech fees the only direct cash payoff allowed to politicians -- other campaign contributions cannot be used for personal expenses, but this money goes straight into Bob and Liddy's bank account. Bob Dole himself earned over a million in speech money between 1981 and 1991, even though Senators were limited to $2,000 per speech. In 1993 speaking fees for Senators were banned altogether, and Liddy's speechifying career took off.At least four of the groups that hired Bob Dole later hired Liddy -- and paid her 10 times as much money.

Phony "Donations to Charity"

The Dole's tried to deflect criticism by announcing that Liddy would donate her earnings -- except for "taxes, speech-writing costs and a contribution to a retirement fund" -- to charity. This was patently phony, for three reasons.

First, it just wasn't true. The LA Times found that they kept $147,663 of the earnings from 1991-1994. After a series of negative press stories, she donated another $74,635, blaming her accountant for a mistake.

Second, her "contribution to her retirement fund" was HUGE -- $243,830 -- and the Dole's are not decades away from collecting on that money. Mrs. Dole is 59, and Bob has already begun collecting on the $330,000 IRA he set up with speech money.

And third, the charity she donates to is the organization she runs, the Red Cross. It's a great group, of course, but the money also increases her power and makes her job easier. So did the $1 million contribution that Dole backer Dwayne Andreas gave the Red Cross right after Elizabeth began her job as president. -- Back to the top -- Sources

What Does She Stand For?

It is by no means clear what Elizabeth Dole really believes in. She has faithfully carried out the policies of people she has worked for, but then again that group includes presidents Ronald Reagan, George Bush and Lyndon Johnson, so it's hard to draw conclusions.

Dole started out as a Democrat, volunteering for John Kennedy and workng for LBJ's Office of Consumer Affairs right out of Harvard law School. When Nixon took power, she simply stayed on and adapted. The National Review describes her work for both presidents as liberal, quoting her as saying that government programs were needed "to replace the outmoded and socially irresponsible notion of caveat emptor [let the buyer beware]." Then, when Reagan took over, she served him loyally and more conservatively.

When she hasn't had a party line to follow, she has not followed any clear line, and in fact tends toward indecision. On the difficult abortion issue, she told one reporter in 1980 that "I think it's just about the most difficult questions there is, and one I'm still wrestling with." 7 years later, she told the exact same thing, almost word for word. And Sidney Blumenthal reported in The New Yorker that Liddy told a New Hampshire state senator in 1988 that while Bob had to campaign as a pro-lifer, he wouldn't really do anything about it.

Ms. Dole has strong appeal to Christian conservatives, in part because of "spiritual reawakening" she had in 1983. We're not sure how that differs from being born again, but apparently it's close enough for many people. But her reassurance about Bob not really doing anything pro-life in office came five years later.

The scary thing is, since her whole life has been a single-minded pursuit of power -- not for anything she has wanted to do with that power, but just to have it -- what will she do if she really gets that power? The last president who fit that profile was George Bush, and there aren't too many people on the right or the left who are happy with what he accomplished in the White House.
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Elizabeth Dole - Hillary II?

If you think Hillary Clinton is a strong, ambitious woman with some questionable financial dealings who has been hiding behind her powerful husband, you will get no relief from Liddy. (And by the way, it's LiDDy, not LiBBy).

Elizabeth Dole is tougher, smarter, prettier, more subtle, and more ambitious than Hillary, and if she is elected this country won't know what hit it. In a hypothetical catfight, we'd bet on Liddy Dole and give 5-2 odds. And she'd make sure you never heard about it.

There is another similarity between Liddy and Hillary, who famously has stuck by her man through his sex scandals, even leading the counterattack against Bill's accusers.

Elizabeth Dole did the exact same thing in the last months of Bob's campaign against Clinton. The story came out that Bob -- who was lambasting Clinton for his lack of character and untrustworthiness -- had had an affair with a younger woman (not Liddy) during the last four years of his first marriage, before suddenly dumping his loyal first wife Phyllis in 1972.

Not only did Elizabeth Dole stand by Bob, she personally lobbied newspapers not to run the story. For example, she sent her close friend Mari Will (the wife of columnist George Will) to ask the reporter, Bob Woodward of the Washington Post, not to print it. (Will had been a major source for one of Woodward's books.) And Liddy personally pleaded with Wasington Post publisher Donald Graham not to run it. Even as she did so, Liddy was filming 2 TV commercials about how Bob was "doing what's right, living up to his word."

The difference between Elizabeth Dole and Hillary is this; Hillary couldn't stop the press from running stories about Bill, but Liddy Dole did. None of this came out until two weeks after the election was over. -- Sources

One Tough Cookie

Liddy Dole was always the one that Bob Dole -- who is famously mean -- relied on to deliver hard news (such as firing Dave Owen, Dole's 1988 Campaign Finance Chairman, when Owen drew heat). She is widely credited with softening Dole's sharp edges and getting him back on track for the Presidency.

She knows exactly what she wants -- power -- and has spent her life making it happen. Until this election, really, it has been impractical for a woman to be elected president directly, and ambitious women needed to hitch themselves to a powerful man to get real power. Liddy said so out loud in the early 1960s, and amazingly, she made it happen over the next 2 decades.

"What I really remember is that back then [in law school] she wanted to be married to the President of the United States. She was already interested in politics, and she was very conscious of the limits that were placed on women then. She thought that to be successful you'd have to be the wife of the President." - Jean Eberhart Dubofsky, her law school roommate, quoted in the New Yorker, January 22, 1996 p63.

Ms. Dole was pretty darn close 20 years ago: she married Bob Dole in December 1975, and 6 months later Gerald Ford picked him as his Vice Presidential candidate, replacing Nelson Rockefeller. Even with all of the stigma of Watergate and the Nixon pardon, Ford nearly beat Jimmy Carter, which would have made Dole the heir apparent 4 years later. With her support, Dole got the Republican nomination 20 years later, an unheard of second chance.

Rumor has it that Liddy previously had been dating Howard Baker; in the mid-1970s, you would have been very hard-pressed to find 2 single Republicans with a better shot at the presidency. (Baker gave the keynote address at the 1976 Republican convention and was widely discussed as a potential vice president that year. He did run for president in 1980, losing to Ronald Reagan. Baker was also Senate Minority Leader from 1977-1991 and Senate Majority Leader from 1981-1985.)

She has her own career and her own scandals as well, notably around her extremely lucrative speeches and irregularities in her investments.

Ms. Dole was, until January of 1999, president of the American Red Cross, and has been in the Cabinet twice; Secretary of Labor under Bush, and Secretary of Transportation under Reagan. (She was criticized for her performance at Transportation, due to a lot of plane crashes and a fiasco over replacing the air traffic control computer system, which still does not work right.) She has also been a Federal Trade Commissioner and senior White House official, and is always on the short list of vice-presidential candidates.

Liddy Dole was born to a prosperous North Carolina family and continues to use her Southern grace to great advantage. But underneath is a steel core of ambition apparently matched by only one person on earth -- her husband. She was student body president and May Queen at Duke University in 1958, and went on to Harvard Law School.

Dole is the quintessential "iron fist in a velvet glove." She uses her Southern charm brilliantly to disarm her competitors in Washington, but don't think for a second that there is anything passive or retiring about this woman.

There is also something a bit calculated about the way she does everything. The Dole's marriage sometimes seems more like a political alliance than true love. They have been living in a tiny apartment at the Watergate (next door to Monica Lewinsky, in fact); both work very late, eat take out and do little else besides politics. According to the National Review, Liddy rehearsed her wedding vows again and again before her wedding, while Bob Dole just winged it. When he ran for president, though, her rehearsed style -- spotlighted in her televised appearance at the 1996 Republican convention -- was much more effective on TV than Bob's improvisation, despite his famous wit.

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Lack of Loyalty

Dave Owen was a friend of Elizabeth and Bob Dole's for decades, and a campaign official for Bob. But they dropped him like a hot potato when it served to help Bob's 1988 re-election campaign. Owen ahd saved Dole's career in 1974, coming in late to take over as his campaign chairman and engineering his narrow comeback. In 1988, when Dole ran a close race with George Bush for the Republican presidential nomination, Owen was his campaign finance chairman and helped raise an impressive amount of money. Owen estimates he has raised $10 million for Bob Dole over the years.

Dave Owen also served as the manager of Elizabeth Dole's money, and in the middle of the 1988 campaign the press started to attack some of the complicated deals Owen had set up for Liddy, pointing to some potential (though somewhat vague) conflicts of interest. The Doles started feeling the heat, and threw Owen to the wolves. Bob Dole wouldn't even talk to the man -- he had Elizabeth deliver the bad news, as he often does. Owen ended up serving a year-and-a-day sentence for income tax fraud for not reporting a payment from the son of legendary football coach Bear Bryant (who was looking for help in getting government approval of a racetrack.)

The payment was only noticed by the IRS because of the misdemeanor state political finance charges that Dole left him to face alone. Republican prosecutors in Kansas went after Owen with a vengenance, and in that state, Bob Dole controlled the Republican machine tightly. Some have suggested that the Doles went after Owen because they felt the scandal cost Bob the presidential nomination in 1988, or because Owen fought the charges instead of quietly falling on his sword.

The case is not cut and dried by any measure, but there is no doubt that the Doles abandoned their old friend in the heat of the campaign. Owens, who just got out of prison, is naturally bitter and thinks support from Bob Dole would have kept him a free man. Dole said at the time "There's nothing there. Dave Owen may have a problem, but that's his problem."

Loyalty is not a simple, good-or-bad issue. Consider the contrast with Bill Clinton. When Clinton was elected, he followed the advice that every small town kid gets when moving off to the big city: "Don't forget your friends back home. Remember who got you where you are." He brought along a number of minor league talents from Arkansas, ranging from sleazy good old boys like Web Hubbell to quiet underachievers like Mac McLarty and people tragically over their heads, such as Vince Foster. Loyalty is hard to attack, but in Clinton's case it blinded him to the inadequacies (or worse) of his friends and crippled his administration for years. And you don't have too many years to spare in a presidential administration.

Elizabeth Dole (like Bob) is unlikely to have that problem. Perhaps ruthlessness is a trait better suited to the leader of the free world. But it always rubs wrong, a little bit. Dangerous loyalty, or ruthless efficiency? Take your pick.

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"When these political action committees give money, they expect something in return other than good government." -- Bob Dole, 1983 (before he got lots of PAC money)

"I could probably have free tickets to the Kennedy Center and a car and a driver." -- Bob Dole, 1997, on life as the First Man

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"Liddy Lite: Elizabeth Dole, charismatic careerist" by Jason Zengerle, The New Republic, February 1, 1999

BLOOD ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL :Elizabeth Dole, Presidential politics, the Red Cross and the Christian Right, by Linda Heller, The Nation Magazine, July 1, 1996

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Donations and Favors:

An excellent overview is the following article:
"Senator Dole's Greatest Harvest", Glenn Simpson, The American Prospect, Summer 1995 p25-33

"Filling Dole's Coffer's Is a Sprawling Network of Business Families", Wall Street Journal, February 12, 1996 pA4 (Western edition) -- Another good overview

"Money's Grip on Politics Detailed", San Francisco Examiner, January 30, 1996 pA1

"Elites Have Been Throwing Money At Bob Dole", Molly Ivins, San Francisco Chronicle, January 26, 1996 pA27

"Razorback Money Drops Clinton, Backs Bob Dole", Wall Street Journal, February 15, 1996 pA18

"Skin deep: Republican Front-runner Bob Dole Will Do Anything For a Buck", Peter Stone, Rolling Stone, August 24, 1995 p39

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Dwayne Andreas and Ethanol:

"Senator Dole's Greatest Harvest", above, in the section titled "ADM's Bumper Crop"

"How Dwayne Andreas Hedges His Bets", Wall Street Journal, October 27, 1995 pA1

"The Real Cost of Ethanol", Dan Carney, Mother Jones, January 1995

"Coin-Op Congress: Sen. Bob Dole", Mother Jones Online

"Dwayne's World", Dan Carney, Mother Jones, January 1995

"Bob Dole's sugar daddy. (Dwayne Andreas)", Jacob Weisberg, New York Magazine, July 10, 1995 p22

Molly Ivins column, 1/26/96, above.

"Filling Dole's Coffers" article, WSJ,above

Natural Gas Companies

"Senator Dole's Greatest Harvest", above, in section titled "Doling Out Legislation"

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Liddy's $875,000 for "Speeches" Sources

"Elizabeth Dole Makes Tardy Charity Donation", Washington Post News Service, San Francisco Chronicle, Feburary 8, 1996

"Elizabeth Dole Got $875,000 Over 4 Years As A Speaker;Couple Kept $147,663", David Willman, Los Angeles Times, January 25, 1996

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Sweetheart Deal on Condo Sources

"Senator Dole's Greatest Harvest", Glenn Simpson, The American Prospect, Summer 1995 p25-33. See the section "ADM's Bumper Crop"

"Plenty of Capitol in Dole's Hideaway: Florida resort has D.C. ties", USA Today, April 1, 1996 p8A

"The Doles' Moment in the Sun: The Campaigning Couple's Florida Retreat has a Long History With Political Insiders", The Kansas City Star, April 4, 1996

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Hillary II Sources:

Newsweek, November 18, 1996

"Dole Got Propped Up By the Media," by Scott Shepard (editorial), San Francisco Chronicle, November 13, 1996 pA21

"The News Blackout on Dole's Adultery," by Marianne Means, San Frnancisco Examiner, November 17, 1996 pC17

What Does She Stand For? Sources:

"She's Got Next: The Other Dole Campaign" by Ramesh Ponuru, National Review, February 9, 1998

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Elizabeth "Liddy" Dole:

"Ambitious Update of Air Navigation Becomes a Fiasco", Matthew Wald, New York Times, January 29, 1996 pA1

"Dole's Safety Claims Questioned; Transportation Chief More Press Release Than Action, Critics Say", Washington Post, July 23, 1985 pA1

"Blind Trust", Jane Mayer, The New Yorker, January 22, 1996 p62

Vogue Magazine profile of Republican candidates, September 1995 p523

List of Senate Majority and Minority Leaders, CongressLink Web Site, Everett Dirksen Congressional Center

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Lack of Loyalty Sources:

"Blind Trust", Jane Mayer, The New Yorker, January 22, 1996 p62

"Senator Dole's Greatest Harvest", Glenn Simpson, The American Prospect, Summer 1995 p25-33. See the section titled "The Teflon Senator?"

"What It Takes", Richard Ben Cramer, Random House, 1992 p836-841, 589-590

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Quote Sources:

-- "PACs expect something" -- "Senator Dole's Greatest Harvest", Glenn Simpson, The American Prospect, Summer 1995 p25

"Notebook: Verbatim," Time Magazine, November 17, 1997, quoting CNN's Larry King Live

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