Sunday, January 05, 2003

From Fools for Scandal

Enter now investigative reporter L.J. Davis, who came to Little Rock in early 1994 for The New Republic to look into alleged conflicts of interest involving former Governor Clinton and his wife. The result of Davis's investigation became the magazine's April 4, 1994, cover story, entitled "The Name of the Rose."

..."With the stroke of a pen and without a visible second thought," Davis wrote, "the-Governor Bill Clinton...gave life to two pieces of legislation inspired by his wife's boss [i.e., the Rose Law Firm] -- revising the usury laws and permitting the formation of new bank holding companies."

In fact, Arkansas usury laws were revised as follows: In 1982, Republican Governor Frank White got the legislature to place a constitutional amendment on the general election ballot replacing the state's restrictive 10 percent interest limit. He campaigned for it vigorously. Every bank, car dealer, and large retail merchant in the state supported the change. Needing the support of organized labor, which opposed the change, White's opponent, Bill Clinton, sat on the fence. Clinton won the election, but the amendment passed without his help...

Davis also wrote darkly of a 1985 law permitting state-chartered banks to open branches in more than one county. "Worthen [National Bank]," he wrote, "could not have been brought to life without [Clinton's] Government." Clinton, The New Republic alleged, also favored Worthen by making it a "major depository of the state's tax receipts," in gratitude for which Worthen awarded the Rose Law firm its lucrative legal business.

But Worthen existed as a federally chartered bank holding company called FABCO (First Arkansas Bankstock Corporation) long before Clinton took office. Nor did the governor award Worthen state deposits : then the state's largest bank, Worthen had been the major depository since before Bill Clinton was born. (State law apportions such deposits among competing institutions.) As for the Rose Law Firm, it had been Worthen's chief counsel for fifty years.

Davis's main focus of the conspiracy is the mighty Stephens Inc. investment banking empire and Clinton's role in stuffing its coffers with illicit bond money.... But for The New Republic, a magazine by the way which employs no fact-checkers [emphasis mine], to assert that Bill Clinton made the Stephens family rich makes about as much sense as arguing that Chase Manhattan's David Rockefeller owes it all to Mario Cuomo.

Need I remind you who the editor of the New Republic was during these glory days?