The House Banking Committee chairman Monday accused the White House of misleading Americans about Whitewater, vowing to show President Clinton got "substantial" benefits from both his real estate venture and his partner's failed savings and loan.
Setting the tone for a politically charged week of Whitewater hearings in the House, Rep. Jim Leach, R-Iowa, said the underlying issue of the Clintons' Arkansas business dealings is "the arrogance of power."But the committee's ranking Democrat, Henry Gonzalez, said Leach is engaging in political gamesmanship and has turned the hearings into an instrument "of partisan muscle."
Gonzalez said there was no doubt that the S&L owned by the Clintons' Whitewater partner was "badly abused." But he added that there is "no evidence that Bill or Hillary Clinton knew anything about those manipulations, much less participated in them."
Leach, the most vocal White-water critic, assailed the Clintons' explanation that they lost money in the failed Whitewater real estate venture and got no benefit from their relationship with James and Susan McDougal, owners of the failed Madison Guaranty S&L.
"In this venture called Whitewater," the McDougals "provided virtually all the money; the governor-in-the-making provided his name," Leach said in his opening remarks.
"The White House has contended that no money went from the failed S&L, Madison, to Whitewater," Leach said. But "documents the committee is releasing this week demonstrate that at least $88,000 was siphoned out of Madison to Whitewater."
The White House has contended that the Clintons lost $46,655 in Whitewater, but "the facts are otherwise," he added.
"Out-of-pocket costs of their investment in Whitewater were minimal while direct benefits were substantial," Leach charged.
Leach's committee also released several hundred pages of documents detailing the Clintons' interest in Whitewater, the work Mrs. Clinton and her law firm performed for Madison and benefits McDougal's real estate ventures got from state officials under Clinton.