WASHINGTON—Former California Democratic congressman Gary Condit is proving to be both elusive and persistent in his ongoing federal court battles.
In Arizona, Condit is hard to pin down. He hasn't coughed up financial records that Baskin-Robbins—he used to own a franchise for two stores—needs for a breach-of-contract lawsuit. Condit's attorney wants to leave the case, but a federal judge says the attorney must first divulge more about Condit's whereabouts.
"Counsel has failed to provide any information regarding (Condit's) telephone number or residence," U.S. District Judge Earl H. Carroll said recently.
In New York City, by contrast, Condit is the plaintiff that keeps on ticking.
There, Condit is persisting in his second defamation case against author Dominick Dunne. Condit's first attorney quit, convinced that the lawsuit had no merit. Condit found another advocate.
For Condit, the separate federal cases amount to a potentially expensive multi-front war. He's playing defense in Arizona and offense in New York.
Condit maintains in his New York lawsuit that Dunne ruined his reputation by suggesting that the former congressman had inside information about the 2001 disappearance of Chandra Levy. Dunne wants the case dismissed.
"Simply put, as much as it may displease Condit, Dunne has a First Amendment right to express his opinion that Condit knows more than he has ever said," Dunne's attorney, Paul LiCalsi, argued in a late May legal filing.
Both lawsuits have their roots in Levy's disappearance and Condit's handling of the resulting controversy. They also reveal the current circumstances of a man who held public office for 30 years.
Raised in Modesto, Calif., Levy was a graduate student in Washington when she disappeared on April 30, 2001. Her skeletal remains were found in Washington's Rock Creek Park a year later. Her killer remains unknown.
Condit initially declared the 24-year-old woman was "a great person and a good friend," but his spokesmen repeatedly denied that Condit had an affair with her.
According to undisputed news accounts, Condit acknowledged to investigators in July 2001 that he had a sexual affair with Levy.
Condit lost his congressional seat in a March 2002 primary.
Out of office, he managed two Baskin-Robbins ice cream stores in the Phoenix area. He also sued those he said had misleadingly linked him to Levy's death.
Dunne paid Condit an undisclosed sum to settle one $11 million lawsuit in March 2005. Condit then filed another suit following Dunne's Nov. 16, 2005 appearance on CNN's "Larry King Live," after Dunne told guest host Bob Costas that he believes Condit is still withholding information.
"Dunne deliberately revivified the discredited criminal accusations that had destroyed Condit's political career (and) caused him inestimable reputational harm and emotional agony," Condit's new attorney, Sandra Rampersaud, declared in a legal filing.
Rampersaud replaced Condit's first attorney, who dropped the case after being threatened with sanctions for filing an allegedly frivolous lawsuit.
Different attorneys are handling the Baskin-Robbins lawsuit.
The ice cream company claims that Condit breached a franchise agreement. So far, Condit hasn't provided the sales records, payroll documents and other papers sought by Baskin-Robbins.
Condit's Oklahoma-based attorney in the ice cream case, Cynthia Becker, asked in February to withdraw from the case because "irreconcilable differences have arisen" with Condit. Judge Carroll denied her request, citing the lack of information from Condit. On Tuesday, the judge set a new June 8 deadline for responding to Baskin-Robbins.