Seven years ago, before he became Arkansas governor, Jim Guy Tucker directed a small-time banker to conceal their financial dealings from the FBI, the government’s chief witness in the Whitewater trial testified Thursday.
On the witness stand for the fourth day, banker David Hale said that in 1989 Tucker told him, “Be careful what you say and tell them as little as you can.”
Hale said that when FBI agents interviewed him, he did as Tucker told him.
If Hale had told the FBI details of federally backed loans he had made, “they would have locked up me and Jim Guy that day and sent the paddy wagon to get Jim McDougal,” Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton’s former Whitewater business partner, Hale said.
On cross-examination, McDougal lawyer Sam Heuer suggested Hale was fabricating testimony about a meeting in which Hale, Tucker and McDougal allegedly plotted improper loans.
Low-key and unruffled, Hale insisted he was telling the truth.
“You’re slick. You’re good,” Heuer told Hale at one point. “I’ve never cross-examined anyone as slick as you.” Hale appeared unfazed, admitting that he lied on numerous occasions to the FBI to protect himself and Tucker and McDougal.
Heuer showed that Hale benefited from numerous loans from his Small Business Administration-backed company. Hale admitted that too, while insisting that some of the loans also benefited Tucker and McDougal.
McDougal and his ex-wife, Susan, are on trial with Tucker for allegedly misusing some $3 million in federally backed loans.
The loans were from Hale’s Small Business Administration-supported company, Capital Management Services, and from Madison Guaranty, the savings and loan at the center of the Whitewater affair. The McDougals owned Madison.
Tucker’s lawyer, W.H. “Buddy” Sutton, said the governor had nothing to hide regarding the loans and never told Hale what he should tell federal investigators.
Sutton said investigators have repeatedly found nothing wrong with the loans from Hale’s company involving Tucker and Madison Guaranty. Sutton has said Hale is lying to lighten his own punishment for defrauding the government.
Hale last week was sentenced to more than two years in prison for defrauding the SBA. Tucker, a Democrat, succeeded Clinton as governor after Clinton was elected president.