Pepperdine University, seeking to refute reports that Richard Mellon Scaife, a controversial conservative publisher and financier, is the only major donor to its new School of Public Policy, has released a list of all contributors of over $25,000, including six who each gave more than $1 million.
The new figures show that Scaife was one of several major donors--contributing $1.35 million, or about 15% of the $9 million in start-up and endowment funds that the school has received.
Scaife's contributions to the school became a center of controversy recently when the Whitewater independent counsel, Kenneth Starr, announced that he would join Pepperdine as dean of both its law school and the new public policy school.
Through his newspaper, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and sizable donations to several other conservative groups and journalistic organizations, Scaife has helped publicize a variety of theories about wrongdoing in the Clinton White House and the death of former White House aide Vincent Foster--many of which are under investigation by Starr's staff.
James R. Wilburn, the acting dean of the public policy school, said Pepperdine officials had not anticipated the furor that erupted after the Starr appointment.
In part, this was because Starr himself had told school officials he did not expect any furor, the acting dean said.
"He told us that it would not be a major development for him to leave the Whitewater inquiry, because he was mainly a manager, and there were many proficient lawyers in the group who could carry on the investigation," Wilburn said.
However, just four days after the Pepperdine appointments were announced, with controversy mounting, Starr announced that he would remain as special prosecutor indefinitely and that he was withdrawing his commitment to assume the Pepperdine positions by Aug. 1.
Even while Pepperdine was providing the more comprehensive list of donors to the public policy school, Wilburn acknowledged that Scaife has long been a big giver to Pepperdine--going back long before the policy school was first envisioned.
A Scaife associate disclosed last week that total giving to Pepperdine by Scaife and the Sarah Scaife Foundation, which Scaife heads, has totaled $12.7 million since 1962.
"He used to show up unexpectedly on the campus at Christmastime and make major gifts," Wilburn said.
"There were occasions where they made the difference between our being able to keep to our building schedule for developing the Malibu campus or delaying it."
However, Wilburn said, in his 25-year acquaintanceship with Scaife, he had never known the Pennsylvanian to give any instructions as to who Pepperdine should hire or how it should operate. "He didn't ask for anything, but he often gave substantial amounts which kept us going," he said.
The $12.7 million in Scaife donations compare with total giving by all donors to Pepperdine since 1962 of between $500 million and $525 million, said the university's executive vice chancellor, Larry Hornbacker.
Wilburn said five parties besides Scaife have each given $1 million or more toward establishing the public policy school.
While mostly conservative corporate leaders, the others have not been associated, as has Scaife, with pushing publicly for a more intensive Whitewater inquiry.
The other $1-million donors identified by Pepperdine are four couples and a foundation: Robert and Katheryn Dockson, Edward and Thelma Gaylord, Charles and Rosemary Licata, Bill and Nancy Mortensen and the Flora L. Thornton Foundation.
Dockson is chairman emeritus of California Federal Savings and Loan. Gaylord is an Oklahoman who is chairman of Gaylord Entertainment. Licata is a retired public accountant, and his wife has been president of the Thousand Oaks Republican Women. Mortensen is retired chief executive of the First Fed Financial Corp. And Thornton is the widow of Charles B. "Tex" Thornton, head of Litton Industries.
In addition, Pepperdine released the names of 18 other parties, including couples, that it said gave between $25,000 and $100,000 to the new school.
These donors included singer Pat Boone; former U.S. ambassador to Japan Jim Hodgson; Thomas P. Kemp, the brother of former GOP vice presidential candidate Jack Kemp; and Glenn Campbell, former director of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.
There were no contributions between $100,000 and $1 million on the list. School officials said they had solicited the smaller contributions for a "Founder's Cabinet" for operational expenses, while the $1-million contributions were for endowment.
Wilburn demurred slightly to published reports that Pepperdine's new public policy school would seek to provide a conservative counterpoint to a more liberal Harvard University public policy school, the John F. Kennedy School of Government.
"I don't think of Harvard as having an ideological bent," he said.
But, he went on, Harvard is geographically closer to Washington, D.C., and "more Washington centered" than Pepperdine.