In this excerpt, Roger Morris in Partners in Power, The Clintons and Their America [Henry Holt and Company, 1996] describes the destruction of Gary Hart's campaign for the presidency in 1988. Ronald Reagan was completing his second term and both the Republican and Democratic fields were weak. Hart had virtually perfected his Kennedy imitation and looked like the odds-on favorite to be the next president.
Yet other secrets, other plans turned out to be far more decisive. The shadowy destruction of Democratic front-runner Gary Hart in the Donna Rice affair was to influence not only the Clintons' fate and the presidential election in 1988 but also the campaign of 1992 and the presidency that followed.
Pages 432 - 434:
Clinton admitted, however, he would enter the race far from the obvious choice. The front-runner for the Democratic nomination was clearly Senator Gary Hart of Colorado, a former McGovern campaign manager and a nationally known, well-financed veteran of the 1984 race. He was receiving increasingly favorable publicity, had run well ahead of George Bush, the likely GOP nominee, in the polls, and already seemed to many an odds-on favorite to be the next president.
On March 27 Clinton went to Los Angeles for an exclusive dinner with television producer Norman Lear and other figures from the entertainment industry-"Hollyticking," as the process of currying and money seeking came to be known. By striking coincidence, however, among those dining with Clinton that evening was Don Henley, a former member of the Eagles rock band. The same night, across the continent in Miami, one of Henley's close friends, a young woman named Donna Rice, was boarding a yacht called the Monkey Business for a voyage that would change the course of American politics.
Within the next few weeks, the public would witness the swift destruction of Gary Hart's candidacy and potential presidency. Only days after his April 13 formal announcement for the White House, the senator was the object of media speculation about his alleged womanizing. Acting on what it claimed was an anonymous tip, the Miami Herald followed a woman to Washington, staked out a townhouse where she was visiting Hart, and on May 4, in the story that swept through the media nationwide, accused the front-runner of an illicit "relationship" with twenty-nine-year-old party girl Donna Rice of Miami. The next day it was confirmed that Hart has spent the weekend of March 27-29 aboard the Monkey Business, which his aide Billy Broadhurst had chartered for the candidate's relaxation after Hart attended a scheduled fund-raiser in South Miami. On Saturday the two men had taken an overnight trip to Bimini with Rice and her girl-friend.
In the wake of the later Herald story, compromising photos of the Bimini trip, including one showing Rice on the senator's lap, were sold to the tabloid press for six figures. And though Hart adamantly denied charges of adultery and seemed to be riding out the Herald story, which some reporters had begun to question, there was more. The Washington Post put the Hart campaign on notice that it had been given a private detective's report purporting to show the candidate's involvement with yet another woman in Washington. It was what many later saw as the paper's power play to force the candidate out of the race. Meanwhile, amid the blaring headlines and rumors, crucial sources of Hart campaign money and support were deserting him. On May 8, less than a month after the Monkey Business expose', Hart withdrew.
As elements of the Hart drama began to emerge afterward, it was clear that his personality and habits had driven his fate to some extent. Yet there had been more to the politician's destruction than vulnerable psychology. Whatever his other strengths or weaknesses, Hart was no ordinary candidate to those in the inner recesses of power.
As a freshman senator he had been a key member of the celebrated Church committee investigation of CIA abuses and specifically the agency's incessant links to organized crime. He had gone on to serve on the new Senate Intelligence Oversight Committee, where he continued to be known for advocating further investigation and exposure of the alliance between the mob and the US intelligence community. Hart would be a vocal critic of CIA covert operations in general. A leading opponent of the Nicaraguan Contra war, the senator had barely escaped what he and others believed to be an assassination plot in 1983 when he flew into Managua at the time of an extraordinary CIA-sponsored Contra air strike against the capital.
From 1984 to 1987 Hart was repeatedly on record voicing his skepticism about the official version of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and promising that if elected president in 1988 he would order the opening of all CIA and other government files in question, looking in particular at the possible role of organized crime figures Santo Trafficante, John Roselli, and Sam Gianciana in the Kennedy murder--the last two of whom had been killed during the Church committee inquiry. By the mid-1980s Hart was increasingly bold in exposing the "sleaze factor" in the Reagan administration, including the wider influence of the mob in Washington. According to someone familiar with the written record of the remark, Trafficante had said of Gary Hart, "We need to get rid of the son of a bitch."
Though it came too late to affect his fate, there would be still more evidence that Hart's fall was not what it seemed at the time. According to US Customs sources, one part of the setting of the episode had long been suspected of a role in drug running. Some of those involved in Hart's Miami-Bimini weekend turned out to have links to organized crime and cocaine trafficking and, in spiraling circles beyond, to crime bosses of the Jewish and Italian syndicates, who in turn possessed ties to the US intelligence community dating back to the Bay of Pigs and earlier.
Discrepancies were plain in the Miami Herald's role in the affair as well. In the supposedly spontaneous call of the paper's public-spirited tipster there had been highly implausible detail about Hart's movements and phone records over the preceding period, intimate knowledge that should have prompted journalistic suspicion but that the paper apparently never questioned. In fact, as a subsequent independent investigation would show, Hart had been under surveillance by unknown parties for days and perhaps weeks before the weekend of March 27-29.
There were also reports of sensational videotapes of the Money Business, part of a professional surveillance of the vessel. Despite unexplained money, incriminating phone calls, and even evidence of a contract murder, most of the media had simply repeated the first trumpeted charges and reprinted the supplied photos, joined the clamor that forced the candidate from the race, and then moved on to the next story. There was no doubt that Hart inhabited the edge, but there was compelling evidence, too, that he had been pushed over it. And both self-inflicted and arranged, the ruin of Gary Hart would have historic impact on the Clintons.
Note that Morris speaks of Hart's advocacy of "further investigation and exposure of the alliance between the mob and the US intelligence community." For the latest on that subject and the destruction of other American political leaders see Richard D. Mahoney, Sons & Brothers, The Days of Jack and Bobby Kennedy [Arcade Publishing, 1999]
April 2, 2000
http//Enough Monkey Business is Enough
http//Enough is Enough
Additional information and later developments reinforce Morris' thesis that Gary Hart's political destruction was a covert operation. The following excerpt is from a July 9, 2008, LACityBeat article entitled "Miss Narco America," about a woman the author, Ron Garmon, calls "Cissie," who was a major drug courier for a Colombian cartel:
What happened to Waldo? “Yeah, well, I found 21 kilos in his house. He was the one I originally held the kilos for myself when I first went into business out here. We were friends and competed who could sell the most after Danny set me up. His wife was a chick named Lynn [Armandt], who was the other woman in the Donna Rice scandal with Gary Hart. She was on the Monkey Business with Donna and told her story to Barbara Walters [and sold to the National Enquirer for $25,000 the infamous picture with the luckless senator’s arm around Ms. Rice]...
“Lynn was friends already with the girls in Florida and all these Pittsburgh ladies who were my girlfriends, like normal chicks,” she adds. “These I took into the business. Another family extension. Lynn later went on Barbara Walters. She was pretty hot. She had a bathing suit place at Turnberry, which was a hub for drugs. I used to see James Caan there all the time. Like that’s a big surprise!”
The article generated the following comment by a reader:
"Cissie," unbeknownst to her, was most likely working on behalf of the CIA and their War With Drugs. Her associate Lynn Armandt was a procurer of hot babes at the Turnberry resort in Miami, which was awash in VIPs, spooks, and coke traffickers in the 80's. Regulars at the club included Meyer Lansky associate Don Aronow, who designed the cigarette boats preferred by drug smugglers. Aronow was a close friend of George H. W. Bush. Aronow was rubbed out in 1987 at the peak of Bush's transparently fraudulent War on Drugs (the day before he was to receive a subpoena). The case file was inexplicably sealed until 2020. Nothing suspicious about any of that, I suppose.
Cissie, like many others, was likely allowed to operate with impunity by the CIA (which always trumps the DEA) to generate vast laundered liquid capital with which the CIA could use as it pleased without a pesky Congress asking a bunch of troublesome questions. In a nutshell she was probably an unwitting Iran/Contra operative.
One could delve further, but one might risk the fate of Gary Webb, who committed "suicide" by shooting himself in the head. Twice.
More provocative information on Armandt, Rice, and their Miami milieu is provided by Webster G. Tarpley and Anton Chaitkin in George Bush: The Unauthorized Biography:
Gary Hart talked about being the candidate with new ideas, but he had an immense vulnerability. He was a habitué of Turnberry Isle, a 234 acre earthly paradise located north of Miami. Part of the complex was a 29 story condominium. Turnberry was frequented by celebrities of the sports and entertainment world, by politicians and by Mafiosi like Joey Ippolito, a convicted marijuana kingpin. The developer and manager of Turnberry was Don Soffer, who was also the owner of a yacht named the Monkey Business. (After the February, 1987 murder of Don Aronow, Soffer received a telephone call, from a person who told him, "You're next." Soffer hired extra bodyguards and went for a one-week Atlantic cruise on the Monkey Business.) Soffer was a friend of Don Aronow. Ben Kramer was also a frequent visitor to Turnberry Isle. The establishment employed a staff of hostesses who were termed "Donnie's girls" or "the party girls". According to some, these hostesses doubled as luxury prostitutes for the Turnberry clientele of wealthy male patrons.
Among the employees of Turnberry was the sometime model Donna Rice. Another woman, Lynn Armandt, was in charge of the staff of party girls, and also had retail space for a bikini boutique in an upscale and remunerative Turnberry shopping complex. Lynn Armandt was the widow of a reputed Ben Kramer associate, a Miami drug dealer and underworld figure who had disappeared and never been found. The car of Armandt's husband was eventually found, riddled with machine-gun slugs and stained with blood. In the glove compartment, investigators found the telephone number of Ben Kramer.
When federal agents raided Ben Kramer's Fort Apache Marina on August 28, 1987, they examined the contents of Kramer's safe and found the original manuscripts of early primary stump speeches by Gary Hart.
Speaking of covert operations, if official censorship comes to the Internet, the rationale for it is likely to be the protection of impressionable young people from pornography and other objectionable things. Among the other bad things is "hate speech," as defined by the would-be censors. It's already being done by private Web-blocking services. You can see what one service blocks as "intolerance and hate" by going to Surf Control's test-a-site and typing in, say, www.crescentandcross.com or www.savethemales.ca.
So where does Donna Rice land? As the top dog at the non-profit, public-service organization, Enough is Enough. She's even had a book published, Kids Online: Protecting Your Children in Cyberspace. And how did that come about. Check out this exchange in an interview article in Salon:
How did you come to write "Kids Online"?
I was approached by the publisher.
Flattering? Try unbelievable.
David Martin, January 17, 2009
See also Burdick, Mitchell on Hart, Rice.