Clintons admit wrongdoing over failure to pay tax

THE CLINTONS failed to report dollars 6,000 ( pounds 4,000) in income from Hillary Clinton's speculation in cattle futures, the White House admitted yesterday. It said they would certainly pay any back taxes owed.

The failure to admit some of her profits will fuel controversy over Mrs Clinton's brief but astonishingly successful venture into the commodity markets in 1978-79. Within a year of starting with an initial investment of dollars 1,000 in 1978 she owned 65 cattle contracts, representing dollars 1.8m worth of cattle.

Deedee Myers, the White House press secretary, said: 'In the course of reviewing documents, we've discovered a small amount of income that was previously undetected.' The extra money, which she said totalled about dollars 6,000, pushes Mrs Clinton's total profit from commodities in 1978-79 to over dollars 100,000. Mrs Clinton's trading was all legal although her broker had a tolerant attitude to the amount of cash she put up. At the weekend it was revealed that most of the orders for the cattle futures were placed not by Mrs Clinton herself but by James B Blair, a senior lawyer for Tyson Foods, the largest poultry company in the US.

Nobody quite believes the Clintons' explanation that their family finances were transformed by a lucky if deeply risky investment which Hillary carried out solely on the basis of information available in the Wall Street Journal. A more likely explanation is that Tyson, based in Arkansas where it is the largest employer, wanted to cultivate Mr Clinton during his first years in politics as attorney-general and then governor of Arkansas and guided his wife towards making dollars 100,000.

The failure to report the dollars 6,000 is the first time the Clintons have admitted wrongdoing during the Whitewater controversy. It will probably not do Mr Clinton much harm but it will dent Mrs Clinton's reputation, as one unsympathetic commentator put it, as the 'Florence Nightingale of the Ozarks'. It also gives the impression that, although Mr Clinton has promised total openness, he only admits what the press has already discovered.

The White House dismissed as ridiculous a story in the deeply conservative American Spectator based on allegations by a former guard of Mr Clinton who claims that he had propositioned 100 women on behalf of the former governor. State Trooper L D 'Doug' Brown, serving in the Clinton security detail from 1982-85, said he assisted in Mr Clinton's philandering although he cites only one example of successfully recruiting a woman.

It is not clear how much damage this allegation will do Mr Clinton. Mr Brown admits Mr Clinton later had him criminally investigated for mismanaging the finances of the State Troopers Association.