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Hubbell Talks

Former Justice Department official tells of his life behind, beyond bars


WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, March 14) -- Life isn't easy for former Justice Department official Webster Hubbell. He's surrendered his law license, his sister is paying for his townhouse and prospective employers tell him, "Webb, you'd have to submit a subpoena along with your resume."

"I thought, after 18 months of paying my debt to society, I would be able to come back and get on with my life. I have great financial obligations that I want to start dealing with," Hubbell told the Arkansas Times in his first extensive interview since being released from prison.

Hubbell, a former associate attorney general for President Bill Clinton and a former law partner of Hillary Rodham Clinton's at the Rose Law Firm in Arkansas, pleaded guilty to two felony charges of tax evasion and mail fraud in December 1994 and spent 18 months in jail. He had skimmed about $400,000 off his clients' legal bills.

Hubbell addressed an area that Congress and special prosecutor Kenneth Starr are interested in -- whether consulting work he performed for major Democratic clients after he left the Justice Department amounted to payments to buy his silence.

He says his relationships with those clients go way back. "Eli Broad is a client of mine from the 1980s," Hubbell said. "Truman Arnold is from Arkansas. And I've represented the Riadys since the day they came to Arkansas. You know how it is -- you piece together this and that, and you make this grand conspiracy. But is it some grand conspiracy, or is it Arkansas?"

Hubbell told the newspaper of his prison job (washing windows) and related how one of the hardest things he had to do was tell his children -- at a Waffle House, in one case -- that he might have to go to prison.

Hubbell says his life disintegrated in April 1993 after two Rose Law Firm lawyers came by his home to ask about a family matter and asked, almost incidentally, about some problems they were finding with his bills. "I visibly had a mask on," Hubbell said. "But inside I was thinking, 'Oh, my God, if they look into all this, it'll be the end.'"

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