Flash forward to 2001. President Clinton’s second term in office has ended, and the president and first lady are about to retire to … Arkansas?
It might be hard to imagine the ever-ambitious Clintons retiring to the relative obscurity of their home state. But it’s not so hard to imagine them setting up a new home in a place like Los Angeles which has been a favorite fund-raising stop for the president, and where he has many friends in the entertainment industry.
“It makes perfect sense for them to want to be out here, given their connections to Hollywood and his thoughts about playing golf and friends in the area,” said L.A. political consultant Richard Lichtenstein.
That sort of thinking may help explain the persistent rumors throughout the L.A. real estate world that friends of Bill and Hillary Clinton have purchased a home on behalf of the First Family in Pacific Palisades.
Brokers who specialize in luxury homes say they have been hearing the rumors for weeks and have attempted to track them down, with no luck so far.
“We’ve tried to trace it down and nobody’s talking,” said Westside broker Fred Sands, who said he has gotten a number of calls from the news media, including Cable News Network, about the rumor. “Everyone’s chasing their tail.”
A title search of property sales in the Palisades area turned up no transfers to the Clintons, nor did property records in the Los Angeles County Assessor’s Office. Property sales, however, are typically not recorded in the Assessor’s Office until 60 days after the transaction.
Rumors of the Clinton house purchase are also being fueled by the fact that the White House won’t deny them.
White House spokeswoman Estela Mendoza said she could neither confirm nor deny reports that the Clintons had bought a house in Pacific Palisades. Pressed to get a better answer from her bosses, Mendoza said she had relayed the request, and “nobody’s come back to me with anything.”
Attorney John Emerson, who was a deputy assistant to the president before returning to Los Angeles last year, said he, too, has heard the rumors but chalks up the speculation to wishful thinking on the part of the Clintons’ friends.
“They obviously love California,” said Emerson, who is now president of the personal investment management division of the Capital Guardian Trust Co. “I have heard nothing credible. I can’t imagine they’d be doing anything like that at this point.”
This would not be the first time that reports of a Clinton Mansion West have been greatly exaggerated.
After the 1992 election, the Clintons spent time at a secluded mansion in Summerland, near Santa Barbara, which had been rented for them by Hollywood producers Harry Thomason and Linda Bloodworth-Thomason.
Everyone presumed the home would be the new Western White House, but after a few visits the Clintons abandoned Summerland for spots like Martha’s Vineyard.
Perhaps surprisingly, Harry Thomason said last week that he had not heard the rumors of the home purchased in Pacific Palisades.
“It’s possible but it’s the first I have heard of it,” he said. “I’ve heard nothing.”
According to at least one account, a home was purchased for the Clintons by billionaire David Geffen, a big-time Democratic Party supporter. Through an assistant, Geffen flatly denied the rumor as “all nonsense.”
Beverly Hills Realtor John Aaroe said he knows of no Palisades-area property on the market that would offer the kind of seclusion an ex-president would desire.
“They certainly have not been sighted in the Palisades,” Aaroe said of the Clintons.
Staff Reporter Frank Swertlow contributed to this report