May 2, 1996 in Nation/World

Whitewater Panel Revives Old Charges


Republicans who control the Senate Whitewater Committee Wednesday resurrected allegations that in 1985, then-Gov. Bill Clinton steered a $30 million Arkansas state bond contract to a syndicate operated by a mysterious cocaine distributor and a troubled Wall Street brokerage firm.

Chairman Alfonse D’Amato, R-N.Y., accused Clinton of favoring Danny Ray Lasater, a big political contributor and family friend later imprisoned on drug charges. In a rare public appearance, Lasater Wednesday denied the allegations, saying his reputation has been smeared by Clinton’s political opponents.

“I never received any special treatment from Gov. Clinton or anyone on his staff,” Lasater, 53, told the committee. In fact, Lasater said, his social and political ties with the governor made him the object of even more intense scrutiny by investigators and the media.

The White House also criticized the committee’s approach. “Sen. D’Amato - co-chairman of Bob Dole’s presidential campaign - is lurching aimlessly into territory once occupied by only the right-wing conspiracy industry, which has been trying unsuccessfully over the last four years to make Dan Lasater allegations stick against the administration,” said White House Special Associate Counsel Mark Fabiani.

Nevertheless, Republicans said the weight of the testimony and evidence brings into question Clinton’s judgment, integrity and credibility.

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