Willey Liked To Hobnob With Politicians
By Jonathan Karl/CNN
WASHINGTON (March 17) -- Kathleen Willey's journey to the center of the investigation of President Bill Clinton began in a quiet suburb of Richmond, Va.
"She liked the idea of knowing politicians," said one family friend, P.T. Hastings. "She liked the idea of being able to go in there, to, like the governor's mansion, and be on first-name terms. You know how some people are."
On the night of the presidential debate in 1992 in Richmond, the Willey's held a fund-raiser. Her former neighbors say the guest of honor was Clinton.
By the time of Willey's fateful Oval Office meeting with Clinton on Nov. 29, 1993, Willey faced financial ruin. Her husband, who according to published reports admitted to stealing money from business associates, killed himself that day. Angry creditors demanded she pay the bills he left behind, including one reported to be $274,000. She sold her home.
She kept up her contacts with the White House and wrote letters to Clinton. In April 1994, she got a paid, part-time position in the office of White House Counsel Lloyd Culter. That job ended six months later, but Willey went on to travel to Denmark and Indonesia at government expense as part of official delegations. And in November 1996, the president appointed her to the prestigious board of the United States Service organization.
By all accounts, Willey seemed to be a loyal supporter of the president.
Ann Lewis, White House communications director, told CNN she recalled meeting Willey in 1996 when Lewis was deputy manager of the Clinton-Gore re-election campaign. "(Willey) came to see me several times," Lewis said. "She told me how much she wanted to work for the president, how much she wanted to be part of the campaign team (and) if it could not be with the campaign, then, perhaps, at the Democratic National Committee, supporting the campaign."
But Willey didn't join the Clinton team again. Instead she worked for a bread company in downtown Richmond, one of a series of secretarial jobs she has recently held, far from the power circles in which she once moved.