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Senate Panel Seeks Answers From First Lady

Fri., June 14, 1996

Four days before they are supposed to complete their investigation, Republicans on the Senate Whitewater committee disclosed Thursday new testimony that they said raises fresh questions about the involvement of Hillary Rodham Clinton in structuring a land deal in 1986 that later was found to be fraudulent.

The testimony came from H. Don Denton, a former savings association executive who has been cooperating for months with the Whitewater independent counsel but whose account of Hillary Clinton’s legal work was unknown before this week.

In an interview with federal investigators Tuesday and made public Thursday afternoon, Denton provided details indicating Hillary Clinton had played a greater role than she has acknowledged in constructing an important part of the land deal near Little Rock, Ark. That deal later was criticized by examiners as a sham and became one of the largest losses for a savings association that ultimately collapsed, costing taxpayers $60 million.

Denton said in the interview that in an April 1986 conversation, Hillary Clinton “summarily dismissed” a legal concern he had raised about a loan note that was at the center of the transaction.

“He said that his caution was ‘summarily dismissed’ by Hillary Clinton in a manner which he took to mean that he was to take care of savings and loan matters and she would take care of legal matters,” the federal agents who interviewed Denton wrote.

Denton was the top loan executive at Madison Guaranty Savings and Loan Association. Madison had been owned and operated by James B. McDougal, the Clintons’ business partner in the Whitewater land venture who recently was convicted on 18 felony counts associated with the savings association and the land development for which Hillary Clinton performed legal work.

Thursday evening, Senate Republicans asked the first lady to respond under oath to the questions raised by the testimony in time for her account to become part of the report the committee is to complete Monday and file with the full Senate.


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