Troopers Say Clinton Sought Silence on Personal Affairs : Arkansas: The White House calls their allegations about the President’s private life ‘ridiculous.’
Four Arkansas state troopers have revived allegations and offered new details about extramarital affairs that caused a crisis in Bill Clinton’s campaign for the presidency. Two of the troopers say that Clinton, as President, sought to discourage them from speaking out by offering them federal jobs.
The troopers, who were on Clinton’s security detail for several years while he was governor, describe a pattern of deception and indiscretions and say that he required them as state employees to go beyond their duties as bodyguards to help him conduct and hide these activities.
Bruce R. Lindsey, a senior White House official and Clinton confidant, said: “These allegations are ridiculous. Similar charges were made, investigated and responded to during the campaign. There is nothing that dignifies a further response.”
Responding late Sunday night to questions submitted by The Times last Thursday, Lindsey said the President had called one of the troopers. But “any suggestion that the President offered anyone a job in return for silence is a lie,” he said.
Allegations about the personal lives of Presidents are not new. While President, Thomas Jefferson was publicly accused by a disgruntled former supporter of having an intimate relationship with one of his slaves. The marriage of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt was reportedly all but formally ended by FDR’s longtime involvement with Lucy Mercer. And accounts of the sexual conquests of John F. Kennedy have multiplied beyond counting.
For most of this century, propriety generally required that such matters be discussed only after the individual leaders were no longer alive. In recent years, however, those standards have been changing--propelling politicians, the public and the news media onto uncertain ground.
Today, the question of what inference should be drawn from a particular example of private conduct remains a matter of intense debate, influenced in part by a widening belief that personal character may be as important to a leader’s performance as political party or ideology.
In Clinton’s case, the new accusations by troopers who guarded him as governor are of a type not uncommon in the political milieu of his home state. Allegations of personal infidelities and rumors of sexual transgressions have been heard before in Arkansas politics, and Clinton has been no stranger to them.
But the breadth and detail of the troopers’ statements--including charges that Clinton misled voters in 1992 about these matters--give their allegations special impact.
The troopers are lawmen who knew the then-governor intimately--even, by their own accounts, as confidants. They drove him around the state, answered his phone and did errands, as well as protect him. They shared many private moments with him, joked with him, ate with him and became his shield from the public.
The troopers also shielded his infidelities, they allege, from his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, as well as the public.
It was that part, the troopers said, that they came to resent, along with what they regarded as an increasingly cavalier way Clinton began to treat them.
The troopers said they were often called upon to act as intermediaries to arrange and conceal his extramarital encounters. They say they frequently picked up and delivered gifts from Clinton to various women and often drove Clinton in his state limousine to meetings with women.
“We were more than bodyguards. We had to lie, cheat and cover up for that man,” said Larry G. Patterson, a 26-year veteran state trooper who spent five years on Clinton’s security unit.
Patterson, 49, is one of two troopers who have signed affidavits for the Los Angeles Times to buttress his charges. The other is Roger L. Perry, 44, a 16-year veteran of the state police and president of the Arkansas State Police Assn., who also served on Clinton’s security detail for about four years.
Two other troopers supported their accounts but have declined to be identified.
In a separate set of interviews, the same troopers also spoke to The American Spectator, a magazine specializing in conservative opinion, which published its account of their charges in its current, January issue. CNN aired taped interviews with Patterson and Perry Sunday evening, and ABC and NBC broadcast stories on the allegations Monday night.
The troopers provided the names of other women they said they believed had been involved in affairs with Clinton while he was governor. Their names will not be published in this story to protect their privacy with the exception of Gennifer Flowers, who publicly claimed in January of 1992 that she had a 12-year affair with Clinton.
In a series of four interviews, one of those women initially denied knowing Clinton. In a later conversation, she denied that she and Clinton had “an improper relationship.”
Another woman did not respond to inquiries. Yet another woman flatly denied any romantic involvement with Clinton, saying, “It is infuriating to me that someone is obviously being paid a lot of money to tell you a lie.”
By speaking out, the troopers will face hard questions about their own motives and credibility.
On Monday, the Associated Press quoted three troopers saying they did not see anything untoward in their duty with Clinton. “I just don’t believe it was true,” said Bob Walker, a security staffer from 1984 to 1988. However, the troopers who are making the accusations say Clinton compartmentalized the duties of his personal detail so that some troopers were in the know and others were not.
After Clinton left for Washington, the troopers said they began to contemplate going public with their accounts.
Perry said he had been personally disappointed by Clinton. He said that after the election Clinton had encouraged him to tell him which federal job he might like. Later, Perry said he told Clinton about a law enforcement-related position, but he never got a response. On Monday, Lindsey issued a statement saying the President did not remember Perry’s request.
Earlier this year, the troopers began discussing the possibility of collaborating on a book about their experiences that might provide some financial security for them if they lost their state jobs.
The troopers sought advice from Little Rock attorneys Lynn Davis, a former director of the Arkansas State Police and former FBI agent, and Cliff Jackson, a former Oxford classmate and noted critic of Clinton who was a key source for stories last year about Clinton’s disputed draft record. The attorneys suggested the troopers make their story public without a promise of financial reward, which they say they have done.
Weeks after the troopers began talking to The Times late in the summer, Jackson said he tried to line up a man he describes only as a politically conservative financier to guarantee jobs and legal defense for the troopers if they were fired for speaking out. He says he has not been able to secure a formal commitment from the unnamed financier.
The troopers said that Clinton misled voters in 1992.
With his bid for the presidency in jeopardy as a result of allegations by Gennifer Flowers in a tabloid newspaper, Clinton went on national television and categorically denied her claims. While acknowledging causing “pain” in his marriage, Clinton argued that “if people have problems in their marriage or things in their past which they don’t want to discuss,” they should not be disqualified from public service.
* Patterson, Perry and another trooper now say that the President maintained a long relationship with Flowers. They said they handled “hundreds” of telephone calls from Flowers to Clinton when Mrs. Clinton was out of the mansion.
None of the troopers said that they saw Clinton engaged in sexual activity with Flowers. But Patterson and another trooper both said they often drove Clinton to Flowers’ apartment in Little Rock and waited outside for him in Clinton’s state-owned Lincoln Town Car. Patterson said that Clinton sometimes said he was visiting Maurice Smith, a one-time aide and Clinton political mentor, who also lived in the building.
“But Bill would come back in a half-hour or so smelling like perfume,” said Patterson.
In addition, Patterson said “I was in the governor’s car” in the spring of 1991 when Clinton used a cellular phone to contact William Gaddy, a state official, and asked him to help Flowers obtain a state job that had become vacant.
In a later interview, Clinton denied that he had done anything personally to help Flowers obtain the job. Gaddy, who was appointed director of the state Employment Security Department by Clinton, denied receiving any such call from Clinton about Flowers.
“Anyone who is saying that is a prevaricator,” Gaddy said in an interview last month, although he acknowledged giving Flowers a favorable recommendation that helped her get the job.
In an action later criticized as improper by a state grievance panel, Flowers was hired for the job over state employees who should have received preferential treatment according to state policy--and despite ranking ninth out of the 11 outside candidates who took a merit test competing for the job, according to a review of a list of scores.
* The troopers contended that Clinton continued to have an affair with a woman other than his wife as late as January of 1993, the month he was inaugurated as President.
The woman, now in her mid-40s, met frequently with Clinton at her condominium and in the governor’s mansion, according to Patterson, Perry and a third trooper. In addition, all three former bodyguards said that the woman sometimes picked up Clinton while he was on his morning jog and then dropped him off some time later along his jogging route.
Perry and the other trooper said that Clinton sometimes returned from these interrupted jogs showing no signs of the physical exertion typical of a runner.
“He’d say he just ran five miles, and I’d say, ‘Governor, you better see a doctor. There’s something wrong with your sweat glands,’ ” recalled Perry.
He said that Clinton on such occasions used the troopers’ bathroom to splash water on his face and shirt to make it look as though he had been sweating.
Patterson said fears developed that Clinton’s relationship with the woman might be revealed through records of state telephone calls, particularly those made on cellular phones, which register every number called.
In February of 1990, Little Rock reporters were examining state phone records for evidence of personal calls by troopers. Perry was identified as one who had made such calls, and he was required to reimburse the state for more than $300.
According to Patterson, during that period Raymond L. (Buddy) Young--then a state police captain and chief of Clinton’s security detail--told Patterson that Clinton had run up about $40 in personal phone charges himself and that the governor was going to repay the state. Patterson said he was told by a Clinton aide to be ready to take the blame for Clinton’s $40 in calls to the woman if reporters inquired.
A review of thousands of pages of state telephone records and other bills show numerous calls by Clinton to the woman. The state records are incomplete and after the spring of 1990, few cellular phone bills were placed in the public file.
The records--which cover only a portion of the telephone calls made on Clinton’s car phone and from his hotel rooms between 1989 and 1991--show 59 calls to the woman’s home and to her office extension during that period.
On one day alone, July 16, 1989, the records show 11 calls to the woman’s home from Clinton’s cellular phone.
Two months later, when Clinton was on a state-paid trip to Charlottesville, Va., the bill for his hotel room showed a call placed to the woman’s home was made at 1:23 a.m. It lasted 94 minutes, according to Clinton’s hotel billing statement. At 7:45 a.m. the same day, according to the hotel record, the same number was called again and lasted 18 minutes.
When asked on Sunday about the telephone calls to the woman, White House counsel Bernard Nussbaum said, “This President calls lots of people.”
In March of 1990, the governor wrote a personal check to the State of Arkansas for $40.65. At the bottom of the canceled check, the line describing the purpose of the expenditure, Clinton had scrawled “phone calls.”
A tabulation of the phone calls showed that Clinton’s calls to the woman’s home and office, both from the cellular phone and from his hotel rooms, resulted in a similar amount of charges: $44.38.
Despite the apparent fears of public exposure, Clinton continued to see the woman, according to Patterson, Perry and the third trooper who said he delivered gifts to her home on several occasions at Clinton’s direction.
It was the third trooper, who will not allow his name to be used, who said that Clinton instructed him to bring the woman to the governor’s mansion at least three times in the weeks after his election as President in November of 1992.
The unidentified trooper is the only eyewitness source for this allegation, although Perry confirmed that his fellow trooper had reported one of the woman’s mansion visits to him at the time it occurred. Perry said he relieved the trooper less than an hour after the woman left the mansion.
According to the third trooper, he escorted the woman past the Secret Service at the mansion by using her maiden name and saying that she was a member of Clinton’s staff. He said the visits occurred in the pre-dawn hours, usually about 5:15 a.m. He said that he stood guard inside the mansion at the door to the basement while Clinton and the woman were downstairs and the governor’s wife was asleep upstairs.
Contacted earlier this month, the woman said that she knew the President and said he was “a good man.”
“There was no improper relationship,” the woman said. “I’m not going to talk to you about it. I don’t know what you are doing. If you are indicating that something was improper, that’s not the case.”
* Two of the troopers say Clinton and an aide took steps in recent weeks to try to persuade them to keep their silence.
In September, after hearing that the troopers might be talking to the press, Young, the former chief of the governor’s security, called Perry and two other troopers to find out what they were doing. Two months earlier, Young had been appointed by Clinton to a $92,300-a-year job as a regional director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency in Texas.
In an interview this month, Young said he made the calls after Clinton told him he had heard reports that his former bodyguards were talking to the press and possibly negotiating a deal for a tell-all book.
Young said he believed that the book was going to “crucify” the President, but he said he did not know the details of what the troopers were supposedly revealing and he did not say what Clinton suspected.
“He (Clinton) heard several rumors about this and that,” said Young. “Like they were going to get $100,000 for a book. So I primarily called Roger Perry to find out what was going on.”
On Monday, Clinton aide Lindsey said that “several months ago a longtime member of President Clinton’s security detail when he was governor contacted the President with information that the prospects of large sums of money were being dangled before several members of his security detail for stories regardless of whether they were true or not to discredit the President and his family.
“President Clinton expressed disbelief and asked why anyone would do something like this. The trooper with whom he spoke said at least one trooper--Roger Perry--was unhappy since he had written to the President asking for a federal position and had received no response. The President said he did not remember the request.”
Perry said that he felt threatened when Young warned him that he and the other troopers would see their reputations “totally destroyed” if they spoke out.
Young denied that he threatened Perry or the other two troopers he contacted. He said the calls were friendly attempts to discover what the troopers were doing and make certain they were aware of the risks involved.
“Roger has a way of twisting things around,” said Young. “I told Roger to let his conscience be his guide and to do whatever he thought he had to do. I never told him he was ruining his own reputation. I said he might very possibly come out the loser in a deal like this.”
Young said “I think whatever they (the troopers) are telling you is bull---- and hearsay.” After serving on Clinton’s security detail for 10 years, Young said, “I saw nothing on Bill Clinton’s behalf that the public is interested in. I don’t think anybody else did either.”
Young said that he met personally with Clinton in Washington and provided a report to the President on his conversations with the three troopers.
“I told him that I’d talked to those boys about it and that Roger was apparently writing, giving information out or something, but I didn’t know what,” said Young.
He also said he gave Clinton the name of one of the troopers involved who had told Young he was backing away from any deal to speak out.
Clinton telephoned that trooper, according to the White House.
Perry said the trooper described to him several telephone calls from the President. The trooper who received the calls confirmed the accuracy of what Perry said about the substance of the calls. However, he refused to allow his name to be used in this story because he said he fears retaliation.
Perry’s following description is vehemently denied by the White House.
According to Perry, Clinton reportedly asked the trooper what Perry and others were telling the press and how far along their plans were. Perry said the trooper told him that Clinton vowed to come in the back door and shut it down when told that Perry and others were planning to go public.
Perry said that Clinton, according to the trooper, said that he could offer an unspecified federal job to Perry and one of two jobs to the trooper, saying that a job like Young’s was open and so was a U.S. marshal’s job.
The trooper told Clinton he was not interested in leaving Little Rock or the state police, according to Perry’s account.
White House aide Lindsey said “in the past few months, the President has had conversations about the fact that false stories were being spread about him as part of an orchestrated campaign to discredit him. There was nothing improper or inappropriate about any of these conversations,” Lindsey said, adding that “any suggestion that the President offered anyone a job in return for silence is a lie.”
In an interview, Lindsey said the President specifically recalled a telephone conversation with one of the troopers. “My understanding is that the President did not offer (him) a job,” Lindsey said.
When asked if the President also had offered another job to Perry, as alleged by Perry and another trooper, Lindsey said, “No, my understanding is not.”
Before the telephone calls by Buddy Young and President Clinton, four of the President’s former bodyguards were considering speaking out publicly. Following the calls, only Perry and Patterson would permit the use of their names.
* Each trooper described incidents on the night shift at the governor’s mansion in which Clinton would come down after midnight and say he was going for a drive, ordering the trooper on duty to call him on the cellular phone if the lights came on in his wife’s bedroom.
Perry recalled that one night he “tried to cover for” Clinton once when Hillary Clinton asked about her husband’s whereabouts sometime around 2 a.m. At the time Clinton was away, driving Perry’s state car. The trooper immediately called Clinton, who rushed home.
“I remember exactly what he said,” Perry recalled. “He said, ‘God! God! God! God! God!’ ”
About 10 minutes later Clinton drove through the mansion gates at top speed, screeched to a stop outside the kitchen door and hurried inside without closing the car door, according to Perry. Perry said he went out to close his car door and overheard a loud, angry exchange between the couple.
Later that morning, Perry said, he went in and cleaned up the kitchen where he found a cupboard door broken from its hinges and debris scattered around the floors.
Patterson described an incident which he said occurred in the parking lot of the governor’s mansion. He said that Clinton and a clerk from a local department store were in the woman’s car, which was parked beneath a security camera. Patterson said in his affidavit and in interviews that he observed on the security monitor Clinton and the woman in a sex act.
On another occasion, Patterson said that he used his state car to block the entrance to a school parking lot late at night while Clinton and the woman met in her car. When a Little Rock police car arrived to investigate possible vandals at the school, Patterson said that he used his state police identification to persuade them that there was nothing amiss.
Attempts to locate the woman for comment were unsuccessful.
The Arkansas troopers first approached a Times reporter last August through their attorney Cliff Jackson who said that the group of former bodyguards was considering writing a book and might be willing to discuss their experiences with the newspaper.
During a subsequent series of private meetings with the reporter in Hot Springs and Little Rock, the troopers expressed anger over what they called “the improper things” they had been required to do for the governor. Sometimes, they said, their protection of Clinton put them in awkward conflict with Hillary Rodham Clinton.
The troopers said they had remained silent while Clinton was governor out of concern for their jobs. They said they still fear retribution by friends and political allies of the President.
Patterson, Perry and two other troopers said that after Gennifer Flowers’ allegations in early 1992, they were warned by Young, then Clinton’s security chief, not to talk to the press “if you know what’s good for you.”
The troopers said Young’s admonishment was one reason that they kept quiet during the presidential campaign. All four said another reason was the fear of immediate retaliation by Clinton, who was still governor at the time.
Attorney Jackson said that to date the troopers have not attempted to negotiate a book deal with anyone.
The troopers also have received no payments for telling their stories, either from The Times--which does not pay for interviews--or, they said, from any other publication or individual.
“My clients were not and are not interested in selling their story,” Jackson said. “They expressly forbade me to even talk with the tabloids or to agents of Ross Perot or the Republican Party who might have wanted this information for purely political purposes.”
Jackson, who formally represents Perry and Patterson, said that in the weeks after the troopers began telling their stories to The Times, he did initiate conversations with an unnamed conservative financier in an attempt to get what Jackson called “a whistle-blower insurance policy.”
He said he tried to get a contract that would guarantee the troopers jobs and a legal defense fund if they were forced from their jobs in reprisal for speaking out. Despite obtaining what he called a verbal agreement of such support, Jackson said efforts to enter into a formal contract collapsed last month. He said no so-called whistle-blower insurance has been guaranteed.
“They’re completely vulnerable to reprisals,” Jackson said. “They’ve gone forward at great personal risk and with great courage to tell the truth.”
This autumn Jackson also introduced his trooper clients to a writer for the conservative magazine American Spectator--David Brock, the author of a recent controversial best-seller “The Real Anita Hill: The Untold Story,” which was funded in part by two conservative foundations--the Bradley Foundation and the John M. Olin Foundation.
Jackson said that Brock’s book-writing background was one reason he contacted the author. Jackson said that he also turned to the conservative political press because he was not certain that “a liberal paper like The Times” would publish such a story critical of the President.
Jackson said he had hoped that the Times would publish its account of the troopers allegations first. As it turned out, the American Spectator was on newsstands Monday.
Each of the troopers said that the only reason they were interested in a book deal was to compensate them for their anticipated lost income if they lost their jobs.
“If we wanted to go out and sell our stories, we could’ve gone to some big tabloids,” Perry said.
“Look, I think we have an important story to tell and I think it’s our duty to tell it, but we’ve all got families to support,” Patterson said. “We just need a parachute.”
The other two troopers, acknowledging that they had been warned by Young against making public statements, declined to sign affidavits. One of the still-unidentified troopers also acknowledged that he had expected to make enough money from a book sale to support his family. Without that kind of financial assistance, he said, he could not risk his job by allowing his name to be used.
Last week, after being informed that Perry was talking about his experiences with Clinton, Arkansas State Police Director Col. Tommy Goodwin transferred Perry from the governor’s security detail to a narcotics post.
Goodwin expressed regret that the troopers had spoken publicly. He called it “inappropriate.” He also called Perry an honest and reliable law enforcement officer.
“I can’t say anything against his credibility,” Goodwin said in a recent interview.
Goodwin characterized Patterson as a raconteur, adding: “He likes to be heard. But I have never known him to lie to me or in his official duties.”
Times researcher D’Jamila Salem contributed to this story.