Richard Mellon Scaife: Billionaire heir who used some of his fortune to fund projects aimed at damaging President Bill Clinton

 

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The Independent Online

Richard Mellon Scaife was the billionaire heir to the Mellon banking and oil fortune and a newspaper publisher who funded libertarian and conservative causes and various projects to discredit President Bill Clinton.

He was the grand-nephew of Andrew Mellon, a banker and secretary of the Treasury who was involved with some of the biggest industrial companies of the early 20th century. Forbes magazine estimated Scaife's net worth in 2013 at $1.4 billion. The intensely private Scaife became widely known in the 1990s when Hillary Clinton said her husband was being attacked by a "vast right-wing conspiracy." White House staffers and other supporters suggested Scaife was playing a central role.

Several foundations controlled by Scaife gave millions of dollars to organisations run by Clinton critics, including $1.7 million for a project at the conservative American Spectator magazine to dig up information about his role in the Whitewater property scandal. In a 1998 interview he called President Clinton "an embarrassment."

He denied that his money helped support an effort to damage the president, while suggesting that Clinton might be linked to the deaths of dozens of administration officials and associates. He also accused Kenneth Starr, whose investigation led to Clinton's impeachment in the Monica Lewinsky sex scandal, to be a "mole working for the Democrats."

Scaife's stance later softened. In 2008 he told Vanity Fair that he and the former president had a "very pleasant" lunch the previous summer, and, he said, "I never met such a charismatic man in my whole life."

JOE MANDAK

Richard Mellon Scaife, businessman: born 3 July 1932; twice married (two children); died 4 July 2014.

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