Lewinsky whistle-blower wins Pentagon lawsuit

Ms. Tripp claimed officials leaked the arrest in retaliation for her key role in the impeachment proceedings against Mr. Clinton. Stephen Kohn, one of three lawyers who represented Ms. Tripp, would not disclose how much of the settlement she will receive after lawyers' bills and other expenses have been paid.

National Post
November 5, 2003

Lewinsky whistle-blower wins Pentagon lawsuit
$595,000 settlement: Linda Tripp's privacy violated in retaliation for impeachment role
Mary Vallis

The woman whose secret recordings were at the heart of the Monica Lewinsky scandal will receive a US$595,000 settlement from the U.S. Defense Department over allegations her privacy rights were violated as the department sought to get even with her.

Linda Tripp, who secretly taped conversations with Ms. Lewinsky in which her friend poured out details of her intimate relationship with former president Bill Clinton, sued the Defense Department two years ago. She claimed members of the department leaked confidential personnel information about her to The New Yorker magazine.

The New Yorker used the information in a 1998 article that revealed Ms. Tripp had not declared an arrest on her application for a job at the Defense Department. Ms. Tripp was arrested for grand larceny in 1969, when she was a teenager, but was never charged.

The 1974 Privacy Act prohibits the government from releasing unauthorized personal information about individuals to non-federal organizations.

Ms. Tripp claimed officials leaked the arrest in retaliation for her key role in the impeachment proceedings against Mr. Clinton.

"The government should never be permitted to use Privacy Act protected information to discredit a political opponent," Ms. Tripp said in a statement through her attorneys.

The settlement was finalized late last month during the last of three court-ordered mediation sessions. According to the agreement, Ms. Tripp will also retroactively receive a promotion and three salary increases that will boost her retirement benefits.

The Lewinsky scandal grew out of a sexual harassment lawsuit by Paula Jones, a former Arkansas state employee. While under oath in January, 1998, Mr. Clinton testified he had not engaged in sexual relations with Ms. Lewinsky and could not recall ever being alone with her.

But Ms. Lewinsky, who was upset about her relationship with the president, confided her frustrations to Ms. Tripp, who taped the talks without Ms. Lewinsky's knowledge. The tapes, which she provided to independent counsel Ken Starr, contributed to Mr. Clinton's impeachment trial. Mr. Clinton was eventually impeached by the House but acquitted by the Senate.

Ms. Tripp lost her job at the Pentagon in January, 2001, after she refused to resign like other political appointees at the end of the Clinton administration. In her lawsuit, Ms. Tripp also took issue with officials who leaked information that she subsequently interviewed for a job at a lower rank and pay scale than her previous position.

Before joining the Pentagon as a public affairs specialist, Ms. Tripp held a civil service job in the White House under former president George Bush.

Stephen Kohn, one of three lawyers who represented Ms. Tripp, would not disclose how much of the settlement she will receive after lawyers' bills and other expenses have been paid. He would also not say whether his client is currently working.

The Defense and Justice departments refused to comment on the settlement. U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan has not yet approved the agreement.

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