THE PARKS MURDER – Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
Crime/Corruption Opinion JERRY PARKS, MURDER, ASSASSINATION, FOSTER, DRUG TRAFFICKING, CLINTON, HILLARY
The Secret Life Of Bill Clinton
Phone Call Rings Clinton Alarm Bells
Foster ‘hired detective to spy on Clinton’
“I’M A DEAD MAN,” whispered Jerry Parks, pale with shock, as he looked up at the television screen. It was a news bulletin on the local station in Little Rock. Vincent Foster, a childhood friend of the President, had been found dead in a park outside Washington. Apparent suicide.
He never explained to his son Gary what he meant by that remark, but for the next two months the beefy 6′ 3″ security executive was in a state of permanent fear. He would pack a pistol to fetch the mail. On the way to his offices at American Contract Services in Little Rock he would double back or take strange routes to “dry-clean” the cars that he thought were following him. At night he kept tearing anxiously at his eyebrows, and raiding the valium pills of his wife, Jane, who was battling multiple sclerosis. Once he muttered darkly that Bill Clinton’s people were “cleaning house,” and he was “next on the list.”
Two months later, in September 1993, Jerry and Jane went on a Caribbean cruise. He seemed calmer. At one of the islands he went to take care of some business at a bank. She believed it was Grand Cayman. They returned to their home in the rural suburbs of Little Rock on September 25. The next day Jane was in one of her “down” periods, so Jerry went off on his own for the regular Sunday afternoon supper at El Chico Mexican Restaurant.
On the way back, at about 6:30 PM, a white Chevrolet Caprice pulled up beside him on the Chenal Parkway. Before Parks had time to reach for his .38 caliber “detective special” that he kept tucked between the seats, an assassin let off a volley of semi-automatic fire into his hulking 320 pound frame.
Parks skidded to a halt in the intersection of Highway 10. The stocky middle-aged killer jumped out and finished him off with a 9 mm handgun–two more shots into the chest at point blank range. Several witnesses watched with astonishment as the nonchalant gunman joined his accomplice in the waiting car and sped away.
It was another three months before news of the murder of Jerry Luther Parks reached me in Washington. The U.S. national media were largely unaware of the story, which surprised me because Parks had been in charge of security at the 1992 Clinton-Gore campaign headquarters in Little Rock.
On my next trip to the state I decided to drop by at the archives of The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette to see if they had covered the death. There were two routine homicide stories by reporter Ward Pincus, mostly focusing on disputes that Parks had had with a former partner.
I contacted the writer, who had since moved to New York. To my surprise he turned out to be the son of Walter Pincus, the intelligence correspondent for The Washington Post and a friend of Vincent Foster. In fact, Walter Pincus had lunched with Foster at the Federal City Club on July 9, eleven days before the death. Afterward Pincus had written an “op-ed” piece in The Post saying that Foster was visibly cracking under the strain of Washington life.
It was a persuasive article, the suicide clincher. I remember reading it at the time and thinking: “Well, that’s it, then, case closed.”
What his son told me was astounding. When he spoke to Jane Parks the day after the death she said that her husband had been involved with Vince Foster and she seemed to think there was a political dimension to the murder. She was distraught, almost hysterical. Ward Pincus did not know what to make of it, so he consulted his editors at The Democrat-Gazette. Should he go out to visit the widow and try to find out what on earth she was talking about? No, they said, don’t bother. Soon afterward, Jane Parks withdrew into her shell and refused to give any interviews to the press.
By asking around, I learned that her son Gary, then 23, might be willing to talk. He was half-underground, sleeping on the floor in different houses, afraid that he too could be the target of attack. Messages were passed back and forth through the informal network of civic opposition in Arkansas. He agreed to talk, given that I was a “foreigner,” he said, and not part of the corrupt U.S. media cabal. It was a sentiment I encountered often in Arkansas.
We met for dinner at the Little Rock Hilton. His escort arrived first, “sweeping” the lobby, the bar, and even the bathrooms, before giving the all clear. It was like being back in El Salvador or Guatemala, where I had worked as a correspondent during la violencia of the early 1980s. I never imagined that I would witness such a spectacle in the United States.
A big strapping fellow like his father, Gary Parks was in constant pain from a wound he had suffered in the navy. A propeller had ripped through his right shoulder. He described his father as a harsh martinet, who once made him run miles in freezing cold weather, drenched and shirtless. But in the security business the name Jerry Parks was good metal. Bill Clinton had appointed him to the board of Arkansas Private Investigators. He was a player. He knew how to keep his mouth shut, too.
Wolfing down a huge piece of steak–he seemed to be half starved–Gary then said that his father had been collecting files on Bill Clinton. “Working on his infidelities,” he said, grinning. “It had been going on for years. He had enough to impeach Bill Clinton on the spot.”
At some point in 1988, when he was about 17, he had accompanied Jerry on four or five nocturnal missions. Armed with long range surveillance cameras, they would stake out the haunts of the Governor until the early hours of the morning. Quapaw Towers was one of them, he remembered. That was where Gennifer Flowers lived.
It was a contract job, Gary believed, but he did not know who was paying for the product. Some of the material was kept in two files, stored in the bottom drawer of the dresser in his parents’ bedroom. He had sneaked in one day, terrified that his father might catch him, and flicked through the papers just long enough to see photos of women coming and going with Governor Clinton, and pages of notes in his father’s handwriting. In one of the photos Clinton was with Captain Raymond “Buddy” Young of the State Police.
In late July 1993 the family house on Barrett Road was burgled in a sophisticated operation that involved cutting the telephone lines and disarming the electronic alarm system. The files were stolen. Gary suspected that this was somehow tied to his father’s death two months later.
“I believe that Bill Clinton had my father killed to protect his political career,” he told me that evening. “We’re dealing with a secretive machine here in Arkansas that can shut anyone up in a moment.”
It was a startling allegation. He was accusing the President of the United States of using a death squad to eliminate enemies. I knew at once that this was a news story that had to be pursued. It was an infinitely more serious issue than Whitewater, and Watergate, too, for that matter.
But why would a bimbo file cause such alarm? And how much did Gary Parks really know anyway? He had been away in the navy. His father had kept him in the dark.
It was imperative to interview his mother. It was she who knew the secrets.
At first Mrs. Parks would not talk to me, except to confirm in a general way that there were indeed files, that they had been stolen, and that Gary was telling the truth. The Little Rock Police had told her not to talk to the press until the case was solved, and she had agreed.
But by the spring of 1994 she was losing faith. The original detective, Tom James, had been pulled off the case. It was becoming apparent that the eyewitness accounts of the death were being ignored by the police. Witnesses had described two assassins: hefty men, with beer bellies and broad shoulders, greyish hair, in their late forties or early fifties. Yet the police kept saying that there was only one killer in the car.
Jane Parks went to visit a top official from the State Police whom she knew well from her church network. He told her outright that the murder was a conspiracy hatched in Hot Springs by five men who moved in the social circle of Buddy Young, the former chief of Governor Clinton’s security detail and now the regional director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency for the south-central United States. She was given the names of the five men, and was told that they flipped coins to decide which two would carry out the execution. And finally, she was told that nothing was ever going to be done about it.
Torn by conflicting impulses, afraid for the safety of her two sons, she agreed to meet me. It was the beginning of a three-year dialogue in which she slowly opened up, and slowly came to terms with her husband’s life as an officer in the Dixie Cartel. With time, and new drugs that restored a degree of health, she began to recall the details that had been repressed and buried.
Her account confronted me with a journalistic dilemma of the first order. Certain episodes could be corroborated, which established a pattern of veracity, but the most shocking allegations were based on her word alone. I made an intuitive decision to publish. At times the moral imperatives of reportage require one to violate the Columbia School codex. Somebody has to give a voice to the little people. I offer readers her story for what it is: her word, sometimes supported by other evidence, sometimes not.
Jane Parks is a slender, elegant brunette, with high cheekbones and a Scots-Irish look about her. On her good days, one would never have known that she was suffering from multiple sclerosis. Tanned and carefully made up, with a soft southern voice, she is undoubtedly an attractive woman. Unaware of who she was, Kenneth Starr had once chatted her up at the Little Rock Athletic Club. She, in turn, noted that he had a “gorgeous body” in his gym shorts.
But at the same time she is a fervent Pentecostal, a member of the Assembly of God Church. She had separated from Jerry Parks early in their marriage, during his brash, heavy-drinking days. The condition for reunion was that he give himself to the Lord and be born again, which he did. Although not everybody was convinced.
“Jerry professed to be a devout Christian. He was obsessed with that image, but he was one of the biggest hypocrites I’ve ever met in my life,” said his former business partner, and enemy, John D. McIntire. “He was power-hungry, out to prove that he was a big shot.”
Jane Parks was not entirely convinced either. But going through the motions was a good deal better than the boorish behavior of the past. At least he had stopped drinking.
In the summer of 1984 Mrs. Parks was the manager of a mid-scale apartment complex called Vantage Point. She was informed by the real estate agents that a nonpaying guest would be coming to stay for a while. She was told to take care of him, no questions asked. The guest turned out to be Roger Clinton, college-dropout, rock-musician, consumate scoundrel, kid brother, or, to be more precise, half-brother, of the Governor–and a Clinton appointee to the Arkansas Crime Commission’s Juvenile Advisory Board.
Mrs. Parks installed him in the corporate suite, room B107. The suite and her offices had originally been part of the same condominium, but they had been divided in two by a thin partition. For the next two months she and her assistant found themselves the reluctant audience of Roger Clinton’s Bohemian recreations. Even during the quiet office hours of 9 to 5 the goings-on were wild. And sometimes the conduct was so outre’ that the two of them would have to leave their office and wait outside until the ecstasies had subsided.
The Kid Brother was going through a bad patch. At that time he was nearing the disastrous culmination of a five-year cocaine addiction. “By mid-1984, Roger spent virtually every waking hour getting high or trying to get high
Roger was already the target of a sting operation by a joint state-federal narcotics task force. In April 1994 he had been filmed by hidden surveillance cameras at an apartment in Hot Springs disparaging “ng grs” and cutting a rock of cocaine for sale.
“Boy, this is some good coke,” says the undercover informant. “It’s decent, it’s decent,” allows the Kid Brother. He knew he was under suspicion but cockily assumed that he was untouchable. “I’ve got four or five guys in uniform who keep an eye on the guys who keep an eye on me,” he explained.
The surveillance archive is a revealing set of tapes. At one point Roger reached for the telephone to order some merchandise from his Colombian friend Maurice Rodriguez, a man listed on FBI documents as an international trafficker with ties to the Colombian cartels. This is not a mixed-up kid who crosses the line a couple of times and gets caught. This is a serious drug dealer who boasts of his technique for getting through airport security with bags of cocaine strapped to his body–once in the company of Big Brother. People are sent to prison for life for dealing cocaine on this scale.
He needed the money badly.
“I’ve been saving up for a Porsche,” he says. “I want a Porsche so bad, I can spit.”
The full uncensored set of tapes was first brought to light by free-lance journalist Scott Wheeler, who has spent four years digging into the organized crime world of Hot Springs and Mena–at great personal risk. They serve as a very raw exposure of the symbiotic corruption of the Clinton brothers.
At one point in the tapes, the undercover informant, Rodney Myers, asks Roger if he can take care of a sewer permit for a condominium project in Hot Springs. Construction had been held up by the Pollution Control Board. A $30,000 fee was negotiated, sweetened with the offer of a job for Roger.
Kid Brother says he thinks that he can “do something,” having explained that “we’re closer than any brothers you’ve ever known. See, I didn’t have a father growing up, and he was like a father to me growing up, all my life, so that’s why we’ve always been close. There isn’t anything in the world he wouldn’t do for me.”
At their next meeting Roger comes back to the subject. “About your other thing, I talked to Big Brother, it’s no problem.” But there is a snag, warns Roger. Big Brother had made some calls and discovered that there was one hold-out on the Control Board.
Could the man be bribed, asks the informant?
No, says Roger, with disgust. The holdout is a decent, upstanding man. But the Board would do what Big Brother wanted in the end.
None of the truly damning dialogue on the tapes was made public in court proceedings, or brought to the attention of the Arkansas people. In his book Partners in Power, Roger Morris says that the segments implicating Governor Clinton were sent to the Public Integrity Office of the Justice Department in Washington. “I guess they just got lost,” one police officer told Morris, bitterly.
The Kid Brother was arraigned in U.S. federal court on August 14, 1984. He pled not guilty to six counts of drug dealing and conspiracy, but soon “rolled over” and became a snitch for the drug task force. The announcement of his plea agreement was delayed until after Governor Clinton was safely reelected in November. In January 1985, locked arm in arm with his devoted mother and brother, Roger was sentenced to two years in the federal penitentiary in Fort Worth. Judge Oren Harris said that he could not reasonably impose probation after learning that Roger had continued snorting cocaine after his arrest.
Bill Clinton, of course, handled it all with great sensitivity and savoir faire. “My brother has apparently become involved with drugs,” he announced. “A curse which has reached epidemic proportions and plagued the lives of millions of families, including many in our state.” His spokesmen insisted the Governor never knew his Kid Brother had tried drugs.
The spin must have been galling for Hot Springs Detective Travis Bunn. A highly decorated Army Special Forces sergeant-major, it was he who had mounted the original case against Roger Clinton. In the spring of 1984 Bunn had recorded Roger Clinton saying: “I’ve got to get some for my brother, he’s got a nose like a Hoover vacuum cleaner.”
Bill Clinton later turned his brother’s scandal to advantage. He intimated that he had “signed off” on the police investigation of his own brother, allowing the process of criminal justice to run its course without meddling. His trouble-shooter, Betsey Wright, claimed that Clinton had written a note to the Commander of the State Police stating that there would be no interference from the Governor’s Mansion and that he wanted the matter handled in a routine fashion.
It was utterly bogus, the very opposite of the truth. In reality the Clinton machine had done everything it could to contain the case. Apparently, Detective Bunn felt he had enough evidence from the surveillance tapes to launch an investigation–in conjunction with federal authorities–of Governor Clinton himself. When he broached the question with the Arkansas State Police, they muscled in immediately and sabotaged his case.
Roger Clinton was arrested before he could provide any more damaging revelations on surveillance tapes, and was kept sequestered. In violation of usual police procedure, Bunn was denied access to the prisoner. He was told, tartly, that Roger “didn’t know anything.”
When Bunn complained to the head of the State Police Criminal Investigations Division he discovered that the arrest of Roger Clinton had not been authorized by the proper officials. It was outside the normal chain of command. Nothing could be done. “The whole thing was damage control, orchestrated by the Governor’s Mansion,” said a State Trooper close to the probe. “They had no right butting in on the Hot Springs police like that.”
The Governor was off the hook. But it was too late to save Roger.
This, then, was the shape of Roger Clinton’s life when he moved into the corporate suite at B107 Vantage Point. The Kid Brother soon made himself at home. Lounging about in his shorts, showing off his gold accoutrements at the pool, he was a quick hit with the teenage girls at the complex.
Women came by at all times of the day and night, sometimes delivered by uniformed State Troopers. Roger would have the door open, the “ghetto blaster” cranked up playing acid rock. Jane’s assistant, who was in charge of tenant relations, had to inform the Kid Brother of the complaints that were pouring in from residents who paid $550 a month for the promise of tranquility at Vantage Point.
From time to time the Governor would appear, usually in the middle of the afternoon. The limousine would be parked along the side of “A” Block, somewhat obscured from view. Jane remembers seeing the driver sitting there listening to music. She soon learned to distinguish between the voices of the two brothers behind the thin partition.
“Roger was the filthy one. He was gross. That’s how you could tell,” she said. But if the language was different, the behavior of the two was much the same. They were sharing joints of marijuana. There could be no doubt about it. She could hear Roger saying what it was, where he got it from, what it was like. Then she could hear the Governor bleating his approval: “This is really good sh*t!”
It was just not marijuana either. Two or three times a week the Governor was buoying his spirits with a snort of Kid Brother’s Colombian rock. The repartee was coming through the vents. She was as certain as if she had been in the suite herself. Sometimes the two brothers were alone. Sometimes young women were invited to join, and the little party was consummated with raucous orgasms. The bed was pressed up against the partition wall, just a few feet from the desk of Mrs. Parks. On two occasions she heard the Governor copulating on the bed. Who the visitors were, exactly, she did not know. But some of them appeared surprisingly young.
Jerry Parks was then head of the Little Rock branch of Guardsmark, a security firm based in Memphis. But he also did private detective work on the side, so when Jane alerted him to the goings on at B107, he began his own discrete surveillance. He wrote down names, dates, license plates; he snapped photos from the balcony of the Parks condo on the third floor of “B” block, across the yard. By the end of Roger’s stay, Parks had collected a thick dossier on the comings and goings of Big Brother. Jane Parks believes that some of the material was in the files stolen from their house in July 1993.
Jane Park’s account of the goings on at Vantage Point is broadly corroborated by her assistant. Unlike Jane, who can be demure, even faintly stern, the assistant is a gregarious, voluble young woman who worshipped at the same church. We had lunch at a barbecue joint in North Little Rock. A chicken-wing sort of place, with faux leather booths. It was dark and largely empty. She was nervous, holding things back. But she did confirm the critical point. The incidents happened, Bill Clinton was present on frequent occasions, and drug use was rampant.
“Everything Jane Parks told you is true. That woman does not know how to tell a lie,” she said. “Bill had his girlfriends in there. You could hear them through the walls. They looked to me very young girls, probably 17, 18 years old.”
I pulled out some confidential files from Arkansas State Police and started going through the names of young women to see if any of them rang a bell. Lost in concentration we did not notice that a large, corpulent, bearded, redneck wearing dark glasses had crept up on us. When I flicked my head around, I suddenly saw him sitting at the next table, staring pointedly at my guest. There was nobody else left in the restaurant.
“Do you know him?” I whispered.
“No, no, I don’t,” she said looking up with fright. The man did not take his eyes off her.
“Please, can we get out of here? Right now,” she said.
We got up without finishing our food. The big bruiser got up, too, and followed us to the cash register. Outside, I waited to see which vehicle he got into so that I could trace the plates. But he just stood there waiting, and watching, with the hint of a smile flickering beneath his salt and pepper beard.
The Machine had left its calling card.
It was another two years before Jane Parks began to tell me the rest of the story. She had remarried and moved to Batesville, two hours’ drive from Little Rock. Her new husband was an attorney named Harvey Bell, the former Arkansas Securities Commissioner. His life, too, had intersected with that of Vincent Foster. A colonel in the Arkansas National Guard, Bell told me that he had been the commander of Foster’s reserve unit and had later crossed swords with him in court. “Vince liked to think of himself as a master chess player, moving all the pieces, controlling the game,” he said. “He was always scheming in the shadows.”
Jane felt safer in Batesville. The threatening telephone calls that she had been receiving had stopped. Her illness was in remission. She had held back before, she explained, for fear of violent reprisals against her two sons and herself. But she was weary of bottling up her secrets, and she no longer felt the emotional compulsion to cover for her first husband. “I’ve been praying about it. I decided that if you tell the whole truth it’ll set you free.”
She revealed that Jerry Parks had carried out sensitive assignments for the Clinton circle for almost a decade, and the person who gave him his instructions was Vince Foster. It did not come as a total shock. I already knew that there was some kind of tie between the two men. Foster’s brother-in-law, Lee Bowman, told me long ago that Vince had recommended Jerry Parks for security work in the mid-1980s. “I was struck by how insistent he was that Parks was a ‘man who could be trusted,'” said Bowman, a wealthy Little Rock stockbroker.
Jane thought that Jerry and Vince Foster had gotten to know each other when the Rose Law Firm represented Guardsmark in litigation. Vince had fed him little tasks during the 1980s, she believed, rewarding him along the way. In late 1989 he helped to secure Jerry a $47,959 loan from the Arkansas Teachers Retirement Fund, a huge piggy bank used by the Clinton Machine for political payoffs. As reported by James Ring Adams in The American Spectator, the loan went through the Twin City Bank of North Little Rock, a bank that had played a role in the Whitewater saga.
Jerry, in turn, “respected Vince Foster more than anybody else in the world.” It was a strange, clandestine relationship. Foster called the Parks home more than a hundred times, identifying himself with the code name, “The Congressman.” Jane met him only once in person. It was at a “Roast and Toast” of the Governor. He walked over, graceful as always, and said: “Hello, you must be Jerry’s wife. I’d heard he’d robbed the cradle.”
By the late 1980s Vince trusted Parks enough to ask him to perform discreet surveillance on the Governor. “Jerry asked him why he needed this stuff on Clinton. He said he needed it for Hillary,” recalled Jane. It appears that Hillary wanted to gauge exactly how vulnerable her husband would be to charges of philandering if he decided to launch a bid for the presidency.
Had he learned to be more cautious? How easily could he be caught? Was it bad enough to destroy a candidacy? These were things she needed to know before subjecting herself and her daughter to the media glare of a national campaign. This moral check-up was a very understandable precaution.
Later, during the early stages of the presidential campaign, Parks made at least two trips to the town of Mena, in the Ouachita Mountains of western Arkansas. Mena had come up in conversations before. Jane told me that Parks had been a friend of Barry Seal, a legendary cocaine smuggler and undercover U.S. operative who had established a base of operations at Mena airport. Parks had even attended Seal’s funeral in Baton Rouge after Seal was assassinated by Colombian pistoleros in February 1986.
One of the trips was in 1991, she thought, although it could have been 1992. The morning after Jerry got back from Mena she borrowed his Lincoln to go to the grocery store and discovered what must have been hundreds of thousands of dollars in the trunk. “It was all in $100 bills, wrapped in string, layer after layer. It was so full I had to sit on the trunk to get it shut again,” she said.
“I took a handful of money and threw it in his lap and said, ‘Are you running drugs?’ Jerry said Vince had paid him $1000 cash for each trip. He didn’t know what they were doing, and he didn’t want to know either, and nor should I. He told me to forget what I’d seen.”
They had a bitter quarrel and barely spoke to each other for two weeks. They made up on Jerry’s birthday on July 3. “The whole thing was becoming scary,” she said of that time. “He was in over his head.”
He told her that he would leave his Lincoln at a hangar at the Mena airport, go off for a coke, and by the time he came back they would have loaded the money into the trunk with a forklift truck. He never touched it. When he got back to Little Rock he would deliver the money to Vince Foster in the K-Mart parking lot on Rodney Parham boulevard, a little at a time. They used a routine of switching briefcases, a “flip-flop mail carrier” made of leather.
Foster and Parks had other operations running. The two of them had bugged the Clinton-Gore headquarters in Little Rock. “Vince knew that somebody was stealing money from the campaign, and he wanted to find out who was doing it,” she said. If her memory is correct, it suggests that Foster was far more deeply involved in the 1992 campaign than previously thought. It raises extra questions about the bundles of cash coming through Mena. Was it campaign money? If so, how was it laundered? How could so much cash have been spread around without flagging the Federal Election Commission?
Contact with Foster was rare after he moved to the White House. But he telephoned in mid-July 1993, about a week before his death. He explained that Hillary had worked herself into a state about “the files,” worried that there might be something in them that could cause real damage to Bill or herself. The conversation was brief and inconclusive. Jerry told Vince Foster that there was indeed “plenty to hurt both of them. But you can’t give her those files, that was the agreement.” Jerry did not seem too perturbed at the time.
A few days later Foster called again. Jane is sure that it was either Sunday, July 18, or Monday, July 19, the night before Foster’s death. Jerry was in the living room with his feet up, watching the History Channel on TV. Jane was puttering in and out of the kitchen. It was around 8:30PM, central time.
“Vince was calling from a pay phone,” said Jane, who overheard one side of the conversation and then learned the rest from Jerry afterward. “He kept feeding coins into the box, and then he told Jerry to hold on. He must have been near a mini-mart or something because he said he had to get more coins. Then he called a second time, and they spoke for 30 minutes or more.”
This time it was a heated exchange. Vince said that he had made up his mind. He was going to hand over the files and wanted to be sure that he had the complete set.
“You’re not going to use those files!” said Jerry angrily. Foster tried to soothe him. He said he was going to meet Hillary at “the flat” and he was going to give her the files.
“You can’t do that,” said Parks. “My name’s all over this stuff. You can’t give Hillary those files. You can’t! Remember what she did, what you told me she did. She’s capable of doing anything!”
“We can trust Hil. Don’t worry,” said Foster.
Jane does not know exactly what files Foster wanted, but assumes he meant everything that Parks had done for him over more than a decade. Nor did she know what Foster meant by “the flat.”
If the telephone call was made on Monday, July 19, it must have occurred an hour or so after President Clinton had called Foster at home and chatted to him for fifteen minutes about “staff problems.” Clinton said that he called to invite Foster back to the White House to watch In the Line of Fire with Webb Hubbell and Bruce Lindsey. Foster had refused.
But I suspect that Jane Parks has muddled the day. Foster was with his family that night. He was in a happy mood, chatting in the kitchen with his youngest son Brugh about buying a boat. It is more likely that the call was made on Sunday, July 18, after Vince and Lisa had returned from a weekend trip to the Eastern Shore.
Vince was making calls late that night. Between 8:00 and 9:00PM Foster telephoned James Lyons, a Denver attorney who had handled personal business for the Clintons. This is an interesting call, too. Foster had spoken to Lyons earlier that week asking whether he would be able to come to Washington on short notice, if necessary. Lyons did in fact agree to come. The two men had arranged to meet for dinner on Wednesday, July 21.
Whatever Foster said to Jerry Parks, he cannot possibly have met with Hillary Clinton at “the flat” or anywhere else. She was on the West Coast during the days preceding his death. On the afternoon of July 20 she was on an aircraft flying from Los Angeles to Little Rock. But that does not preclude the grim possibility that Foster thought he was going to a rendezvous with the First Lady on July 20, and met his death instead.
The rambler-style home of the Parks family was swarming with federal agents on the day after Jerry’s assassination. Jane remembers men flashing credentials from the FBI, the Secret Service, the IRS, and, she thought, the CIA. Although the CIA made no sense. Nothing made any sense. The federal government had no jurisdiction over a homicide case, and to this day the FBI denies that it ever set foot in her house.
But the FBI was there, she insisted, with portable X-ray machines and other fancy devices. An IRS computer expert was flown in from Miami to go through Jerry’s computers. Some of them stayed until 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning. The men never spoke to Jane or tried to comfort her. The only conversation was a peremptory request for coffee.
The FBI agent in charge was a tall man of about fifty, with blue eyes. Tom somebody, she thought. He never left a card. Jane was under the impression that he was from the Hot Springs office, which didn’t make any sense either. When she told him that the murder might have a political dimension because of Jerry’s dealings with Vince Foster and Bill Clinton, the man cut her short. “He threw up his hands and said, ‘I don’t want to hear anything about that.'”
With the help of the Little Rock Police Department the FBI ransacked the place, confiscating files, records, and 130 tapes of telephone conversations–without giving a receipt. “I’ve asked them to give it all back, but the police refuse to relinquish anything. They told me there’s nothing they can do about the case as long as Bill Clinton is in office.”
Without access to the complete records, Jane has been unable to reconstruct her husband’s activities in the months before his death. She knows that he was calling the White House in early 1993 demanding full payment for work performed by American Contract Services during the campaign. The firm was owed $83,000, she believed.
When Jerry complained to his client contact, Dee Dee Myers, she insisted that the money had already been paid. “I have the company’s signature on the back of the checks,” Myers told him. The checks were drawn on the Worthen National Bank in the name of the “Clinton-Gore Presidential Transition Planning Foundation.” Most of them were signed by David Watkins.
“We don’t sign our checks, we stamp them,” Jerry replied.
Somebody inside the campaign had been embezzling the money, he was told, but he was promised full payment anyway. The check never arrived. In the end, the campaign said that it was only going to pay him thirty cents on the dollar. Parks was seething. He had been contracting workers at $5.00 an hour and billing the campaign at a rate of $7.23 an hour, a relatively modest mark-up. A settlement on these terms would have been ruinous. That is when he began to play hardball with Betsy Wright and Webb Hubbell, calling them in Washington to express his wrath. Whatever he said, it seemed to work. On July 22, 1993, two days after Foster’s death, Jerry received his check for $83,000.
Was it possible that he had begun to make some hints about his confidential files, starting with the Vantage Point material but then perhaps escalating to matters of campaign finance? Could he have triggered a nuclear alert by alluding to documentation that was not supposed to exist?
“No, I don’t think so,” said Jane, loyally but without total conviction. “Jerry would never have been so stupid as to try to blackmail the President of the United States.”
I do not pretend to understand why Jerry Parks was murdered. But the indications that the Parks case is somehow intertwined with the death of Vincent Foster is surely compelling enough to warrant a proper investigation. Instead, nobody cares to learn what Mrs. Parks has to say.
Why is it that every utterance from the lips of one widow–Lisa Foster–is treated with reverence, while the other widow, brushed aside by an arrogant FBI, offers a conflicting version of events that is totally ignored by the American press?
Is Lisa Foster an inherently more accurate witness of events than Jane Parks simply because she belongs to a higher social caste? Is that what American justice and journalism has come to?