New investigation threatens more woe for Clinton

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The Arkansas past of Bill and Hillary Clinton, already the focal point of the Whitewater affair, is now under scrutiny on a second front as investigators look into ties between the Clintons and Tyson Foods, the giant Arkansas poultry firm whose c hairman, Don Tyson, has longstanding ties with the Democratic party.

This latest potential source of trouble for the White House is not the handiwork of Kenneth Starr, the Little Rock-based special prosecutor who last week extracted a felony guilty plea from Webster Hubbell, the former associate Attorney General and closefriend of the Clintons. Instead it stems from the tribulations of the outgoing Agriculture Secretary, Mike Espy, who resigned in October amid allegations he had accepted favours from Tysons, which is regulated by the Agriculture Department.

As with Whitewater, a special prosecutor was appointed to handle the Espy investigation - California lawyer Donald Smaltz. His inquiries have broadened from the issue of whether Mr Espy accepted free plane travel and sporting tickets from Tyson to the skein of relations between the company, the Clintons and the Administration.

Mr Smaltz is currently increasing his staff to 35 Investigators from his and Mr Starr's teams have recently met to compare notes.

The investigation threatens to shed more light on the murky amaglam of politics and money that marked the Clinton years in Arkansas. But for Mrs Clinton, the Tyson connection could be particularly troublesome.

Like the President, she is a longstanding friend of both Mr Tyson and James Blair, the company's top lawyer. It was Mr Blair who gave Mrs Clinton help with her successful foray into cattle futures trading, when she turned $1,000 (£640) into $100,000, in just over just 10 months in 1978 and 1979.

At a beleaguered White House, the broadening of the Espy investigation is seen as another ploy by Republicans determined to embarrass the Administration.

Mr Smaltz's endeavours only underline the obvious: that the clouds of Whitewater and Arkansas will hang over this Administration for the remainder of its term.