Hillary's Brother Was Paid for Pardon Work

ByABC News
February 21, 2001, 6:07 PM

Feb. 21 -- Former President Clinton today claimed he didn't know that his wife's brother, Hugh Rodham, had been hired by two of the controversial figures he granted clemency to in his final hours in office.

In a statement, Clinton said he learned only Tuesday that Rodham, an attorney and brother of New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, received a contingency fee in connection with the pardon application of Glenn Braswell, who had been convicted of mail fraud, perjury and tax evasion, and a fee for work on the commutation application of Carlos Vignali, a convicted drug dealer.

"Neither Hillary nor I had any knowledge of such payments," Clinton said in a written statement late this afternoon. "We are deeply disturbed by these reports and have insisted that Hugh return any monies received."

Legal sources tell ABCNEWS that Rodham, a Florida lawyer with no pardon expertise, received some $400,000 for his work on both cases. That figure includes a $200,000 payment for successfully lobbying for the Braswell pardon. Nancy Luque, an attorney for Rodham, said tonight he has returned the money.

"My client, Hugh Rodham, today acceded to his family's request that he return legal fees earned in connection with pardon requests," Luque said in a statement. "Hugh Rodham has done absolutely nothing wrong. He has returned these fees solely because his family asked that he do so."

Mrs. Clinton said she was "disturbed" by the revelation and had no prior knowledge of her brother's involvment in the controversial clemency applications.

"I was very disturbed to learn that my brother Hugh Rodham received fees in connection with two clemcncy applications," she said in a statement. "He did not speak to me about this."

Who Are Braswell and Vignali?

Braswell, the founder of a frequently investigated herbal remedies and vitamin empire, was convicted in 1983 and sentenced to three years in federal prison and five years probation. Clinton's pardon restored Braswell's civil rights.