The Corner

Who Is Eugene Delgaudio? I Know

In the August 1996 issue of The American Spectator, I wrote an article about Eugene Delgaudio. I had never heard of him before I received an over-the-top direct mail appeal from something called the “Clinton Investigative Commission,” asking for money to investigate the death of Vincent Foster. Delgaudio’s name did not appear on the letter, but I traced it to him, and the following is an excerpt from the article, beginning with the letter:

“It was a steamy and sticky Washington afternoon when I made my promise to Vince Foster’s widow — the kind of afternoon I have come to dread here in Washington. Hot, humid, and wet. With the smell of the swamp Washington is built on coming up through the sewers. And on that fateful afternoon, I made a promise I must keep. A promise I have spent the last year of my life fulfilling — a promise that will affect the very future of our great Nation. On that steamy afternoon, I promised Vince Foster’s widow:

’I will not rest until your husband’s killer is in prison.’”

It was an extraordinary letter, even by the overheated standards of direct-mail fundraising appeals. Sent to thousands of people across the country, the steamy missive arrived courtesy of the Clinton Investigative Commission, a Virginia-based group that says it has proof “beyond all shadow of a doubt” that the late White House Deputy Counsel Vincent Foster was murdered. And the lurid passage quoted above was just the beginning.

Commission Executive Director Ronald Wilcox went on to grieve “for Vince and Lisa Foster’s three beautiful children.” He claimed he worked so hard on his investigation of Foster’s death that sometimes he went for days without sleep. He declared the probe had led to threats against his own life, as well as “the vandalism of my car.” But he vowed to fight on. “I will see to it that Vince Foster’s killer goes to jail,” the letter declares, “whoever he–or she–may be.”

Wilcox’s letter also claims a critical role for the Commission in the independent counsel’s investigation of Whitewater. He appears to take credit, for example, for the firing of the first counsel, Robert Fiske.

“When Bob Fiske turned out to be a stooge for Bill Clinton, I knew he had to go,” Wilcox writes. “I went public, and attacked Fiske for his refusal to find out the truth about Bill and Hillary Clinton. The next day, Fiske was fired.”

Then there is the Whitewater investigation on Capitol Hill. “As you know,”

Wilcox boasts, “my Report to Congress caused a huge uproar in Washington. On the day it was released, the Whitewater Hearings reconvened. And Vince Foster’s death was the main topic. On that day, my Report to Congress blasted the lid off the entire Vince Foster cover-up.”

It’s not hard to guess where all this is leading. “As I write to you, the Commission’s bank accounts are drained,” Wilcox writes. “Can I please count on you to send a one-time contribution of $500 or $1,000? Your contribution will help the Commission to put Vince Foster’s killer behind bars.” And then, as if he couldn’t resist just one more word, Wilcox offers up this tid-bit about Vince Foster’s last day alive: “On that gruesome afternoon, Vince Foster was with a mysterious blond (his wife, Lisa, is a brunette). He ate a meal and engaged in adulterous sexual relations with this blond. A few hours later he was dead. By law, I am not allowed to make a conclusion here.

The facts speak for themselves. Sincerely, Ronald Wilcox.”

The fine print at the bottom of the letter says the Clinton Investigative Commission is an “authorized program” of something called the Council of Volunteer Americans. The Council is “a non-profit organization recognized under section 501 (c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code,” the note reads. “A copy of our financial report is available by contacting our office or the Virginia Department of Consumer Affairs.”

But the state of Virginia has no record of either the Clinton Investigative Commission or the Council of Volunteer Americans. And, as it turns out, Ronald Wilcox is not the man in charge; he’s just an assistant whose name is used as a front for the real force behind both groups. That man is Eugene Delgaudio, a long- time Republican activist in northern Virginia.

Perhaps “activist” is the wrong word to describe Delgaudio. Maybe it’s better to call him a clever but small-time practitioner of the art of political guerrilla theater. A native New Yorker and a veteran of the conservative activist group Young Americans for Freedom, Delgaudio operates from a small office in Falls Church, Virginia. His primary activity is to stage events–comic protests with a political message. Republicans in Washington might remember one a few years ago, when the “Ted Kennedy Swim Team” marched from La Brasserie, one of the Massachusetts senator’s favorite hangouts, to the Capitol. That was Delgaudio. A few months later came the “Barney Frank Housesitting Squad,” a crusade to create a “hooker-free zone”

around the gay congressman’s house in case a male prostitute again tried to do business there without Frank’s knowledge. That was Delgaudio, too.

And then there was “Pornographers Against Helms,” a group formed during the congressional battle over federal funding for obscene art projects.

“Pornographers Against Helms” lent its support to Michigan Democrat Carl Levin when he opposed Jesse Helms’s move to ban funding–leading some observers to believe that real-life pornographers really backed Levin. The senator was said to be outraged; “Pornographers Against Helms” turned out to be Delgaudio’s handiwork. In recent months Delgaudio was heavily involved in the unsuccessful drive to defeat Virginia Senator John Warner. He created RAW, or Republicans Against Warner, and held a number of protests at Warner campaign appearances.

Byron York is a former White House correspondent for National Review.

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