Billionaire Ron Burkle says hiring former President Bill Clinton as a consultant at his investment firm Yucaipa Cos. was "the dumbest thing I ever did" after media scrutinity of their friendship damaged his reputation and made him a frequent boldfaced name in gossip columns.Nobody was paying attention? Well, Clinton did have the media running interference for him while in office.
Burkle sounds off on his soured relationship with Clinton in a candid interview with Michael Gross for his new book, "Unreal Estate: Money, Ambition and the Lust for Land in Los Angeles," coming in November from Broadway Books. It profiles owners of 16 estates, including Burkle and his palatial LA home Greenacres. Gross writes that Clinton stayed there about 80 times and flew on Burkle's private planes, but their relationship became raw meat for vulturous media once Clinton was hired as an adviser to Yucaipa in 2002.
"We were friends the whole time he was in the White House," Burkle told Gross. "He spent a lot of nights in LA and, frankly I never read about it. I went to Camp David and I went to the White House. Nobody was really paying attention. So I frankly, didn't give a lot of thought to what the downside was. Maybe I should have."
Vanity Fair ran a scathing profile of Clinton in 2008, which mentioned that Burkle's jets were nicknamed "Ron Air" and "Air [Bleep] One." Burkle told Gross, "I didn't create Clinton's reputation for issues with women, but I became part of it." A year after Clinton left Yucaipa, reporters were still picking over their relationship, and Burkle told Gross that "hiring Clinton was in some ways the dumbest thing I ever did."Kinda makes you wish you wore a blue dress, huh?