Scandals resurface to plague Clinton: Saga of alleged financial irregularities threatens more trouble for the President than new accounts of extramarital sex

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The Independent Online
THE White House is denouncing as 'old' stories two scandals - involving President Bill Clinton's sex life and his dealings with a failed Arkansas savings and loan bank - which have re-emerged to haunt him.

Allegations by two Arkansas state troopers have breathed life into tales of Mr Clinton's extramarital affairs during his years as governor of Arkansas. They say they helped him meet girlfriends and allege that another trooper was given a job to buy their silence.

The renewed attack on Mr Clinton's morals came in an article yesterday by David Brock in the extreme right-wing American Spectator, but is being given wider circulation by the television news network, CNN. Roger Perry, one of the troopers, told CNN that he had helped smuggle a woman into the governor's mansion in Little Rock.

Larry Patterson, another trooper, says that even after Mr Clinton was elected President, he had sex with a girlfriend in a car outside a school in Little Rock. Even the American Spectator admits that the troopers' decision to speak to the press may have 'an element of self-interest and score-settling'.

The fact that the accusations are being taken seriously at all is largely due to the long-term effect of the scandal surrounding Gennifer Flowers, the Little Rock woman who last year alleged she had a 12-year affair with Mr Clinton. She almost sank Mr Clinton's bid for the presidency and his survival was more the result of public tolerance than belief in his denials.

The fresh accusations by former members of Mr Clinton's security detail are being orchestrated by the Republican right. Mr Brock made his name as the man whose allegations against Lani Guinier, once Mr Clinton's choice for the civil rights' post at the Justice Department, led to her nomination being withdrawn.

In Little Rock the lawyer for Mr Perry and Mr Patterson is Cliff Jackson, a political enemy of Mr Clinton. Mr Jackson arranged for his two clients to be interviewed by CNN because 'he felt we needed the national TV hammer at this time'. As with the Flowers incident, Mr Clinton may be saved by the suspect motives of his accusers.

The saga of the President and Hillary Clinton's relations with James McDougal, the owner of a failed Arkansas savings and loan bank Madison Guaranty, may be less easy to dispose of. Again the press on the far right, notably the Washington Times, has been pushing the story but the Clintons and Mr McDougal at least gave the impression of doing each other favours.

Madison Guaranty was described by a Republican as a 'private piggy bank' for a tight circle of powerful politicians and businessmen in Little Rock, including the Clintons. Before it was taken over by the government in 1989 at a cost of dollars 60m (pounds 40m), Mr Clinton as governor had been notably slow to investigate the bank though auditors had been alarmed by the way it was run as early as 1983.

The Clintons not only had business dealings with Mr McDougal but had borrowed dollars 50,000 from Madison to fund a campaign. They strenuously deny that this persuaded them to get inspectors to go easy but, as details of the affair have emerged, their protestations of innocence are difficult to believe.