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Judge Nixes Moseley-Braun Testimony

August 7, 1998 GMT

WASHINGTON (AP) _ A judge ruled today that Sen. Carol Moseley-Braun does not have to testify in a travel agent’s bid to collect a $250,000 debt from the senator’s former campaign manager and ex-fiance.

D.C. Superior Court Judge Jose Lopez said there was no evidence Moseley-Braun, D-Ill., was hiding anything with Kgosie Matthews or that she could shed any light on his finances. The judge also noted the couple was not married and their only piece of joint property _ a Chicago cooperative apartment _ was accounted for.

Moseley-Braun had been subpoenaed in Washington travel agent Antoine Kacem’s lawsuit against Matthews.

In arguments filed with the court, Moseley-Braun’s attorneys said she already has said all she knows about Matthews’ whereabouts and finances in written answers provided to Kacem’s attorney in May. She is too busy to spend more time on the matter, their brief said.

``The time and expense required to prepare for and attend an oral deposition imposes an undue burden on Senator Moseley-Braun who has significant responsibilities,″ the brief said.

Moseley-Braun claimed the request for an in-person question-and-answer session is merely an attempt to ``annoy and harass″ her and damage her re-election effort. She asked that Kacem’s attorney be sanctioned for harassment and ordered to reimburse her court costs.

In March, Lopez ordered Matthews to pay Kacem $249,969 for 60 plane tickets the Washington travel agent booked for him between December 1993 and August 1995, plus interest and attorneys’ fees. But collecting the money has been a problem since it is not known where Matthews lives, although he is believed to reside in South Africa.

Kacem attorney David Dickieson didn’t believe Moseley-Braun when she said in her unsigned written response that she does not know where Matthews is. Dickieson noted the two owned the co-op together until last year and that Moseley-Braun acknowledged Matthews still telephones her.

Dickieson called Moseley-Braun’s arguments frivolous and arrogant.

``The Senator’s position demonstrates incredible hubris as she essentially claims that the court should value a couple hours of her time as being worth more than the continued survival of (Kacem’s) business,″ his response brief said.

He did not comment after the hearing.

Moseley-Braun’s attorney, Carolyn Utrecht, said afterward that the senator’s written answers were not evasive or wrong.

``She stands by the answers,″ she said.

The possibility of testifying about Matthews raised many of the questions that have dogged Moseley-Braun since her election and comes as the latest independent poll shows she is in a virtual dead heat with the GOP state Sen. Peter Fitzgerald.

He has hammered Moseley-Braun for her 1996 visit to Nigeria with Matthews, during which she met with the late dictator Sani Abacha, accused of human rights abuses.

In addition, a Chicago television station recently reported that the IRS wanted to know if Moseley-Braun and Matthews illegally used $281,000 in funds from her 1992 campaign treasury to pay for designer clothes, jewelry, a stereo, cars and overseas vacations. The Justice Department twice refused 1995 IRS requests to take the case before a grand jury, saying evidence was insufficient.