Bill Clinton’s troubled Arkansas past haunted his political future yet again Tuesday as the president’s trusted friend and intimate political adviser, Bruce Lindsey, denied at the Whitewater trial here that he had conspired to hide $52,500 in cash withdrawals by the 1990 Clinton gubernatorial campaign.
In a day of sworn testimony for the defense, the taciturn Lindsey contradicted a central charge brought by Whitewater Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr that Perry County Bank co-owners Herby Branscum Jr. and Robert M. Hill concealed from the Internal Revenue Service a $30,000 cash withdrawal on May 15, 1990, and a $22,500 cash withdrawal on Nov. 2 the same year.
Lindsey, 48, rebutted testimony from lead prosecution witness Neal T. Ainley, the bank’s former president, that he joined Branscum and Hill in forcing Ainley to break the law by failing to file the required cash transaction reports with the IRS.
Under questioning by the defense, Lindsey denied he asked Branscum, Hill and Ainley not to report to the government the large cash withdrawals later used to finance get-out-the-vote efforts. “No sir. I had no discussion with anyone at Perry County Bank about CTRs,” Lindsey said.
Federal statutes adopted to combat money laundering and drug dealing mandate that banks notify the federal government when currency in sums greater than $10,000 are withdrawn or deposited.
The 11-count indictment brought Feb. 20 also charged the two defendants with stealing $7,000 from their bank by filing phony expense vouchers and steering the proceeds to Clinton in the form of illegal contributions to his gubernatorial and presidential campaigns. Wednesday, the defense plans to play Clinton’s edited 2-hour videotaped testimony recorded at the White House July 7.
The indictment does not accuse Clinton of breaking the law. But prosecutors say it is suspicious that shortly after Clinton personally received the cash gifts, he named Branscum to the powerful Arkansas State Highway Commission and Hill to the Arkansas State Bank Board. Prosecutors assert and defense lawyers deny that Branscum and Hill made illegal contributions to curry favor with Clinton in hopes of securing the unpaid but powerful posts.
Lindsey said the cash was used for “get-out-the-vote” efforts, including paying district leaders in minority areas to drive voters to the polls and cover out-of-pocket expenses.