The White House is clamping down on its use of military helicopters after releasing details of 12 trips by Clinton administration officials aboard flashy "white top" aircraft usually reserved for the president.
Trying to douse bad publicity over perquisites and privileges, the White House issued new rules Tuesday that require all staffers, including senior officials, to get permission before hopping a military flight.Last week, a Maryland newspaper published a picture of three White House aides boarding a presidential helicopter at a golf course, toting their clubs and getting a smart salute from a Marine guard.
The man who ordered the flight, White House administrator David Watkins, relented Tuesday and agreed to reimburse the government $13,129.66. "I'm not admitting I did anything wrong," said Watkins, who lost his job over the incident.
Press secretary Dee Dee Myers also Tuesday released the findings of an internal study of helicopter usage and declared, "There were no other instances of misuse."
Uninspired by these developments, Republican Rep. Roscoe Bartlett said releasing the report was not enough. He wants access to all military flight manifests used to conduct the study.
"The inconsistencies in the information released by the White House renders their efforts unreliable," said Bartlett, whose Maryland district contains the golf course Watkins visited.
The list released Tuesday details 12 trips in which Clinton's staff, administration officials and military personnel assigned to the White House used the same comfortable, green and white helicopters that President Clinton flies under the name Marine One.
The White House said 11 of the flights were work-related and proper, even though Clinton was not aboard.
Most of the flights carried only military personnel. Three trips by administration officials were confidential military missions, including one carrying Housing Sec-retary Henry Cisneros and Alice Rivlin, deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget.
The new rules require people other than the president to clear trips through Chief of Staff Mack McLarty or his deputy, Phil Lader. McLarty and Lader must clear their trips through the White House counsel's office.