Nolanda Hill


Prime Time Live, ABC news
June 18, 1997

Mystery Woman 

HTTP://www.abcnews.com/onair/ptl/html_files/transcripts/ptl0618a.html

Nolanda Hill On Her Relationship With Ron Brown
June 18, 1997

SAM DONALDSON 
Good evening. Diane is on assignment.
We begin with the story of one woman in the middle of controversy and
scandal in official Washington. Her name is Nolanda Hill, a
businesswoman from Texas whose never worked in the White House and never
held a government job. But her close relationship with a member of
President Clinton's Cabinet, the late Ron Brown, put her in a position
to see and hear a lot.

She may tell her story to Congress and to prosecutors before long. But
first, she's telling her story tonight to chief investigative
correspondent Brian Ross.
("Taps" playing) 

PRES. BILL CLINTON
Ron Brown -- a trail blazer, a builder, a patriot.

BRIAN ROSS, ABC NEWS
(VO)  At the funeral last year of Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown,
she was described by some as the mystery woman, the woman who wasn't
supposed to be there.  Her name is Nolanda Hill.

LARRY CLAYMAN (PH), JUDICIAL WATCH
Nolanda Hill is one of the people who was the closest to Ron Brown.

BRIAN ROSS
(VO)  And now, more than a year after the death of Ron Brown, a lot
of people in Washington are very worried about what Nolanda Hill may
know and be willing to talk about.

WILLIAM CLINGER, FORMER CONGRESSMAN
She clearly was in a position to know a number of things that,
frankly, we never got answers to.

BRIAN ROSS
(VO)  A former Democratic Party chairman, Ron Brown at first was seen
as one of the rising stars of the Clinton administration.
               RON BROWN, FORMER SECRETARY OF COMMERCE
It is, indeed, an honor and a privilege to be named Secretary of
Commerce.

BRIAN ROSS
(VO)  But Brown soon became perhaps the most investigated member of
the Clinton administration, surrounded by questions of bribery and
influence peddling, the target of a federal grand jury and a special
prosecutor.  And behind the scenes through it all was the so - called
"mystery woman," Brown's little - known business partner, Nolanda
Hill.

NOLANDA HILL, BUSINESSWOMAN
I was a friend, a close friend.  We loved each other.

BRIAN ROSS
(VO)  Now coming forward to tell her story, Nolanda Hill describes
what she says was a seven - year long business and personal
relationship that put her in the middle of Ron Brown's Washington.

NOLANDA HILL
I talked to him at least once a day.

BRIAN ROSS
(VO)  His dealings with President Clinton.

NOLANDA HILL
Ron often referred to as "Bubba."

BRIAN ROSS
(VO)  Taking orders from Hillary Clinton.

NOLANDA HILL
No, he was not happy about it.

BRIAN ROSS
(VO)  The Democratic fund - raising scandal.

NOLANDA HILL
The White House wanted him to meet with some damn Chinaman.

BRIAN ROSS
(VO)  And the pressures that she says made Brown, as Secretary of
Commerce, vulnerable to corruption and susceptible to illegal drugs,
which, if true, would be very risky behavior for a government
official at the center of power.

NOLANDA HILL
He came up in the era of drugs are OK.  I mean, you know, he was a
'60s child.

BRIAN ROSS
(on camera)  As Secretary of Commerce, did he use drugs?

NOLANDA HILL
Um, yes.

BRIAN ROSS
Were you there?

NOLANDA HILL
Yes.

BRIAN ROSS
(VO)  It happened, she said, frequently at her Washington apartment,
where Brown would come to relax after work.

NOLANDA HILL
He smoked pot, and he once did a line of cocaine.

BRIAN ROSS
(on camera)  And you didn't smoke pot with him?

NOLANDA HILL
I've smoked pot.

BRIAN ROSS
With him?

NOLANDA HILL
Mm - hmm.

BRIAN ROSS
Wasn't he afraid that if it was -- if he was ever caught with that,
his career would be ruined?

NOLANDA HILL
He was reckless a lot.

BRIAN ROSS
(VO)  In fact, Hill now blames Brown for all the legal troubles that
she says eventually cost her her business and led her into a clinical
depression.  But Brown's friends and family are outraged that Hill is
going public and making what they consider to be unfair and
uncorroborated allegations, such as the charges about illegal drugs.

REID WEINGARTEN, RON BROWN'S ATTORNEY
Preposterous.  I mean, I guess anything's possible.  There may be a
tyrannosaurus rex outside when we leave this building.  It sounds
preposterous to me.

BRIAN ROSS
(VO)  Reid Weingarten was Ron Brown's lawyer.

REID WEINGARTEN
I never had the slightest indication that Ron ever used drugs.  I
have no idea why she's saying what she's saying.

BRIAN ROSS
(on camera)  Is it not true, though, that she did have a close
relationship with Ron Brown for many years?

REID WEINGARTEN
I think that's true.

NOLANDA HILL (FROM VIDEO)
I'm Nolanda Hill.  I own my own business, and so can you.

BRIAN ROSS
(VO)  Nolanda Hill was the millionaire owner of two television
stations when she first met Brown, whose high - powered Washington
law firm did work for Hill's company.  She soon took him in as a
business partner.

WILLIAM CLINGER
She was really a mover and a shaker.  And I think the two of them
were a pretty formidable team.

BRIAN ROSS
(VO)  Former Republican congressman Bill Clinger led an investigation
of Ron Brown's finances, focusing on hundreds of thousands of dollars
Hill paid Brown for his interest in their business which had cost him
nothing.

WILLIAM CLINGER
Everybody would like to have a deal where you don't make any
investment and then a few years later you make a half million dollars
profit.

NOLANDA HILL
Well, Ron really wanted money, period.  I mean, he was not one to
leave a nickel on the table, you know?  So  ...

BRIAN ROSS
(on camera)  This is the man you're talking about who you say you
loved?

NOLANDA HILL
Sure.

BRIAN ROSS
(VO)  Trouble with money began, she says, as soon as President
Clinton asked Brown to serve as Secretary of Commerce.

NOLANDA HILL
We sat down and we looked at what his monthly expenses were versus
what his known income was going to be, and he was, you know, $7,000
in the hole when he woke up on day one of any month.

BRIAN ROSS
(VO)  Which Nolanda Hill says would twice lead Brown into schemes
involving under - the - table money.  The first, an offer from the
group claiming to represent the government of Vietnam, seeking to get
American trade restrictions lifted.  Hill says Brown met with them
both before and, more significantly, after his selection as Secretary
of Commerce.

NOLANDA HILL
And he said, "Do you think it would be worth a million dollars?"  And
I said, "Ron, this is crazy.  I mean, it's nuts."

BRIAN ROSS
(on camera)  But he was trying anyway?

NOLANDA HILL
He was considering it.  He saw it as an opportunity to afford to be
Commerce Secretary.

BRIAN ROSS
And were bank accounts set up overseas?

NOLANDA HILL
There was a bank account set up, as I understand it.

BRIAN ROSS
(VO)  In the middle of it, one of the men allegedly involved -- a
Vietnamese - American named Binh Ly -- went to the FBI telling of a
plan to funnel some $700,000 to Brown through a secret bank account
in Singapore.

REPORTER
Mr. Secretary, what can you tell us about this report that says you
received money in exchange for helping lift the trade restrictions on
Vietnam?

BRIAN ROSS
(VO)  It was big news when the investigation broke in 1993, and, at
the time, Brown denied everything.

RON BROWN
An absolutely ridiculous report, has no validity to it.  I have never
been involved with any such thing.

BRIAN ROSS
(on camera)  Is that truthful?

NOLANDA HILL
No.

BRIAN ROSS
He lied?

NOLANDA HILL
Yes.

BRIAN ROSS
(VO)  But Hill says no money ever changed hands, and the bank account
was not used because Brown got a tip the FBI was on to him, something
FBI agents on the case have told ABC News they always suspected.

NOLANDA HILL
We knew that the FBI investigation was going on.

BRIAN ROSS
(on camera)  It was known?

NOLANDA HILL
We knew.

BRIAN ROSS
How did you know?

NOLANDA HILL
Ron told me.

REID WEINGARTEN
The Justice Department completely exonerated Ron Brown.

BRIAN ROSS
For lack of evidence?

REID WEINGARTEN
Lack of evidence.  There was no evidence.  There was no evidence to
support the allegation whatsoever.

BRIAN ROSS
Nolanda Hill did not testify.

REID WEINGARTEN
She had no connection with the investigation.  She had no direct
information except this bald lie about what Ron Brown may or may not
have said.

BRIAN ROSS
(VO)  The most serious charge Hill makes is that two big Democratic
contributors, Nora and Gene Lum, shown here at Brown's funeral,
actually did pass money to Ron Brown when he was Secretary of
Commerce.

NOLANDA HILL
The first number was $60,000.  We discussed $60,000.

BRIAN ROSS
(VO)  The Lums, who just this month pleaded guilty to campaign
finance violations, have been under investigation by federal
prosecutors for several years over their relationship with Ron Brown
and the Democratic party.
In 1993, the Lums took over an Oklahoma gas company called
Dynamic Energy Resources that sought special government contracts as
minority - owned business.  Then, the Lums hired Brown's 28 - year -
old son, Michael, and made him a well - paid officer of the company -
- a convenient way, Hill says, to move money to the father.

NOLANDA HILL
I know that Ron received money that had been paid to Michael.

BRIAN ROSS
(on camera)  From the Lums at Dynamic Energy?

NOLANDA HILL
Yes.

BRIAN ROSS
Why would the son give the father money?

NOLANDA HILL
Well, the official version from Reid Weingarten is to pay back some
of his law school fees, which I fought with Ron about and told him
that was the dumbest thing I ever heard.  And I even told Reid that
that was stupid to say that.

BRIAN ROSS
What did Ron tell you was going on?

NOLANDA HILL
Ron needed money to pay his taxes.

REID WEINGARTEN
Let's start with the facts.  It's always a good place to start.  The
Lums never paid off Ron Brown.  And Ron Brown never did anything for
the Lums.

BRIAN ROSS
(VO)  When pressed, Weingarten said just what Nolanda Hill predicted
he would.

REID WEINGARTEN
Ron was an incredibly generous dad.  When Michael came of age -- when
Michael started kicking in professionally, Michael would be in a
position to repay some of the responsibilities that Ron assumed.

BRIAN ROSS
(VO)  Hill says she tried to get Brown to use a different story.

NOLANDA HILL
I talked to Ron about this, and I said, you know, "Why don't you say,
'There's nothing I can do for the Lums as Secretary of Commerce'"?
And he said, "But that's not true.  I don't want to say that, because
that's not true."  And I said, "Well, it's not true that this all of
a sudden is to pay you back for college either."  He said, "Well,
nobody can prove that."

BRIAN ROSS
(VO)  Michael Brown, now a lawyer at his father's old firm, declined
to talk with PrimeTime about the allegations.  In addition to talking
about Ron Brown, congressional investigators also hope Nolanda Hill
can, in a way, talk for Ron Brown, particularly about the role Brown
and his Commerce Department may have played in the Democratic fund -
raising scandal.

LARRY CLAYMAN, JUDICIAL WATCH
The Commerce Department was an opportunity for the Clinton
administration, if it wished to do something illegal, to have it done
there.

BRIAN ROSS
(VO)  Many of the revelations involving the fund - raising scandal
have come from this Larry Clayman, who heads a conservative group
called Judicial Watch.

LARRY CLAYMAN
Nolanda Hill is someone who would be in a position to know, directly
>from  the horse's mouth, what Ron Brown and the Commerce Department
were doing.

BRIAN ROSS
(VO)  One question many want answered is how the man now at the
center of the FBI's investigation of illegal fund - raising -- John
Huang -- how did he get a top - level job at Ron Brown's Commerce
Department?  Nolanda Hill says she knows.

NOLANDA HILL
Ron told me that the White House put him there, and it was Ron's
opinion the White House meant Hillary in this instance.

BRIAN ROSS
(on camera)  That she put him there.

NOLANDA HILL
He believed that she was the person that had made the call.

BRIAN ROSS
(VO)  The White House denies that, but Hill says it was also the
White House that sent Brown on this 1994 trip to China  ...

RON BROWN
Mr. President.

BRIAN ROSS
(VO)  ...  to urge government officials to approve a billion - dollar
power plant project involving the Indonesian Lippo Bank, a bank owned
by a family that has contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to
Bill Clinton's various campaigns.

NOLANDA HILL
He said the White House -- this is the one the White House wants him
to do.

BRIAN ROSS
(VO)  That allegation is also denied by White House.  The day after
the plane crash that killed Secretary Brown in Bosnia, the special
prosecutor shut down his investigation of Brown.
But the investigation into those around him continues.  And going
public now is a risky move for Nolanda Hill, as she, herself, remains
one of the subjects of a grand jury looking into how and why she paid
Ron Brown so much money just before he became the Secretary of
Commerce.
(on camera)  Did he ever help you in his official position as
Secretary of Commerce?

NOLANDA HILL
Never, ever, never.  I didn't need to buy influence with money.  I
had all I needed.

REID WEINGARTEN
I think there's perhaps a likelihood that she's going to be indicted
and charged with serious felonies.

BRIAN ROSS
If she is indicted, will it not be essentially also an indictment of
Ron Brown?

REID WEINGARTEN
I believe not.  Absolutely not.

BRIAN ROSS
A posthumous indictment?

REID WEINGARTEN
I believe not.


NOLANDA HILL
Ron's dead.  They can't indict him.  I mean, maybe I'm sitting here
indicting him, and I'm sure I am.  I have.  But the other side of
this is that I believed what he did was wrong.  I have to put that
chapter of my life -- that part, that 10 years -- away.  And to do
that, I have to close the book.

SAM DONALDSON
We may be seeing a lot more of Nolanda Hill this summer.
Congressional investigators are currently negotiating with her lawyer
so that she can testify in connection with the Democratic fund -
raising scandal.

You can get more information on Nolanda Hill and other breaking
stories from our new 24 - hour on line service, abcnews.com.

ANNOUNCER
Could you say this to someone you didn't want to go out with?

GAVIN DE BECKER
"I have decided that I don't want to have a relationship with you,
and I am certain I will not change my mind.  And having come to this
conclusion, I hope you'll pursue other avenues because that's what
I'm going to do."


Back To The Top.

Back To The Crash Page.


Mail to:

drupal statistics