DALLAS — Ross Perot's presidential petition committee used a San Francisco law firm and private detective agency to investigate the backgrounds of state coordinators and other Perot volunteers in some states, an official with the Perot Petition Committee confirmed Wednesday.
During a period when Perot was publicly denying allegations that he frequently used private detectives to investigate business rivals, his committee was paying more than $78,000 to the Callahan & Gibbons Group, a law firm that specializes in private investigations and other security-related matters, according to campaign finance reports and recent billings reviewed by the campaign official.
Perot's campaign reports list the payments--the first $56,000 of which were included for August--as "legal fees." But Clayton Mulford, general counsel to the Perot Petition Committee, said in an interview that the Callahan & Gibbons Group provided a variety of services to the committee, including the deployment of security at some local Perot for President offices, a detailed study of drug policy and "background checks" and credit histories of some state coordinators to determine if they had criminal records or were unsuitable to handle large sums of money.
After the Perot Petition Committee's payments to Callahan & Gibbons were first reported Tuesday night by CBS News, Mulford agreed Wednesday to provide some details about the relationship. He said the firm was hired, without Perot's knowledge, during a chaotic period last spring when thousands of citizens began flocking to Perot petition offices and in some cases got into heated disputes over who should serve as local or state coordinators.