Career criminals…professional grifters…the ultimate Democrat politicians…

Voters in Illinois and Michigan witnessed the nastiest moments thus far of the Democratic presidential campaign Sunday night when former California Gov. Jerry Brown accused Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton and his wife, Hillary, of unethical behavior and funneling state business to her Little Rock law firm.

With former Massachusetts Sen. Paul Tsongas standing by during a one-hour TV debate in Chicago, Brown launched a harsh, personal attack on the Democratic front-runner, citing a Washington Post story published Sunday that raised questions about the relationship between the state of Arkansas and the law firm of which Hillary Clinton is a partner.

Watch the exchange between Governor Jerry Brown and Bill Clinton here:

Clinton ardently defended his wife`s integrity, and he charged that Brown`s attack was driven by electoral desperation and poll results.

The confrontation came as the three Democrats met for the last time before Tuesday`s presidential primaries in Illinois and Michigan.

Against that backdrop, Brown unleashed his barrage after he and Tsongas were asked by a debate panelist about Clinton`s “electability“ in a possible fall campaign against President Bush.

“I think he`s got a big electability problem,“ Brown said, citing the Post story as well as other newspaper articles that addressed the governor`s environmental record in Arkansas.

Calling it a “scandal of major proportions,“ Brown said, “He is funneling money to his wife`s law firm for state business. . . . It`s the kind of conflict of interest that`s incompatible with the kind of public servant we expect.“

The Post story did not say that either Clinton or his wife had channeled money or state business to the law firm. It did note that the Rose law firm has several state agencies and large corporations on its client list.

Stabbing a finger at his rival, Clinton said: “Let me tell you something, Jerry. I don`t care what you say about me, but you ought to be ashamed of yourself for jumping on my wife. You`re not worthy to be on the same platform with (her).“

Clinton mocked Brown`s populist campaign approach and his bulldog tactics.

“I don`t think you can take much of what he says seriously,“ Clinton said. “Jerry comes here with his family wealth and his $1,500 suit, making lying accusations about my wife. I never funneled any money to my wife`s law firm. Never. Never.“

Clinton insisted that his wife had turned down her partnership share in any income the firm receives from state business.


The candidates then began shouting over one another, Clinton alluding to Brown aide Patrick Caddell, a longtime Washington political consultant, and suggesting the former California governor was “somebody else`s mouthpiece.“ “I feel sorry for Jerry Brown,“ Clinton barked. “He reinvents himself every year or two.“

Clinton, whose campaign has thus far survived supermarket tabloid allegations of infidelity and questions about his draft history, has been forced to respond to suggestions from all of his Democratic rivals that he cannot defeat Bush.

Last week, Clinton had to address a New York Times report that documented the Clintons` investment in a real estate deal with a man who later became head of a savings and loan that eventually failed.

Brown`s attack was the most pointed of the campaign, and may have marked a transition point in American politics, a point at which the career and conduct of a male politician`s spouse becomes fair game for attack.

From her role on CBS` “60 Minutes“ defending her husband against charges of philandering to a less celebrated role as a campaign adviser, Hillary Clinton has played an exceedingly public role in the campaign.

Via: Chicago Tribune

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