ASHINGTON, Feb. 8 - In August 2000, Bill and Hillary Clinton attended a Hollywood fund-raiser billed as a tribute to a president ready to leave the White House after eight years and a first lady seeking to establish herself as a force of her own in American politics.
The guest list reflected the glitter of the occasion: Cher, Diana Ross, Brad Pitt and Patti LaBelle, to name just a few. But a person who later emerged as perhaps the most memorable - to the Clintons and their associates, anyway - was a well-connected figure with a checkered past who helped organize the event. He is Peter Paul, a man who pleaded guilty to cocaine possession and trying to defraud Fidel Castro's government out of millions of dollars in 1979, among other things.
Mr. Paul said he spent nearly $2 million of his own on the fund-raiser as a way to curry favor with Mr. Clinton, and photographs show him chatting with Mr. Clinton at a dinner table, having a discussion with Mrs. Clinton and striking poses for the camera with both of them.