If Hillary Rodham Clinton is so smart, so savvy, so razor sharp, how did she allow celebrity scam artist Aaron Tonken to dupe her and her husband?
And if she denies being duped -- nobody can pull the wool over those steely blue eyes -- then what exactly did Hillary know about Tonken's fraudulent charity schemes and when did she know it?
Federal investigators are now probing Tonken's involvement with a $1 million Hollywood political event for Hillary's 2000 Senate campaign, according to the Los Angeles Times. Earlier this week, a Los Angeles judge granted a preliminary injunction that prevents Tonken from soliciting any more money for charity. Tonken has been sued by California state Attorney General Bill Lockyer for allegedly bilking a half-dozen charities supported by the Clintons and prominent Hollywood celebrities. Tonken also faces a federal criminal charge of mail fraud.
Here's the lowdown on Hillary's Hollywood flimflam man that you won't find in her new best-selling book:
Tonken is a former street bum with a creepy lifelong attraction to Hollywood stars and powerbrokers. He once cold-called Jackie Onassis and sweet-talked Zsa Zsa Gabor into allowing him to stay at her apartment. He crashed the celebrity fund-raising scene a decade ago and quickly rose to the top. Tonken hooked up with Democratic socialite Denise Rich -- ex-wife of fugitive financier and Clinton pardonee Marc Rich -- for a lavish charity event in Milton Berle's honor five years ago; it was reportedly Mrs. Rich who introduced Tonken to the Clintons.
Tonken's mentor was Peter Paul, a convicted felon who was seeking access to the Clintons on behalf of his business partner Stan Lee (comic-book creator of Spider-Man). Paul claims to have underwritten a Hollywood gala for the Clintons produced by Tonken in August 2000. The liberal elite bash -- attended by Cher, Melissa Etheridge, Ted Danson, Michael Douglas, Whoopi Goldberg, Goldie Hawn, Shirley MacLaine and John Travolta -- was both a tribute to the former president and a soft money fundraiser for Hillary's New York Senate campaign.
Paul, who partied hard with Bill, Hill and Chelsea at the star-studded event, alleges that his direct and in-kind contributions worth $2 million were disguised in order to hide his involvement with Hillary's campaign. He also claims that Democrat officials solicited a contribution from Paul in return for a presidential pardon he unsuccessfully sought for his two prior convictions for cocaine possession and fraud. Paul has since fled to Brazil. He is fighting extradition to the U.S., where he faces an indictment for his role in a $25 million stock manipulation scam involving Stan Lee's media company.