Treasury Lawyer Tied to Whitewater Quits : Inquiry: Jean Hanson becomes the second senior aide to resign in two days. Her testimony before Congress antagonized department officials.
Jean Hanson, the Treasury Department’s general counsel, became the second senior Treasury official in two days to resign in the wake of Congress’ recent Whitewater hearings.
Hanson, 45, had antagonized other senior officials in the Treasury Department as a result of her testimony during the hearings, in which she sharply contradicted Deputy Treasury Secretary Roger Altman’s account of contacts between White House and Treasury officials. An investigation of a failed Arkansas savings and loan owned by a former business partner of President Clinton was discussed during the contacts.
Hanson also suggested that Treasury Secretary Lloyd Bentsen knew more about the case than he had indicated.
Treasury officials were so angry about Hanson’s testimony that they suggested she would be forced out by Bentsen after the hearings ended on Aug. 5. Lawmakers criticized her for not providing full disclosure about the extent of contacts between the Treasury and the White House.
Hanson’s resignation followed Altman’s by one day.
Separately, Administration sources said that the long-stalled nomination of Washington lawyer Ricki Tigert to chair the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. appears to be in jeopardy. She was first nominated to be one of the nation’s top banking regulators by Clinton in November, 1993, and the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee voted to confirm her in February.
But a group of more than 40 Senate Republicans placed a “hold” on her nomination, which has indefinitely delayed action by the full Senate. The Republicans were angry that Tigert did not pledge in her confirmation hearings to recuse herself from any Whitewater-related issues that might come before her. She would say only that she would review such issues with her ethics officer.
A senior Administration source said Thursday that her nomination is all but a dead issue. But an FDIC spokesman stressed that Tigert has not withdrawn. The FDIC has been without a permanent chairman since August, 1992.
Hanson, who is said to be returning to the Wall Street law firm where she previously worked, will be succeeded by Edward S. Knight, currently Bentsen’s executive secretary and senior adviser. In her letter of resignation to Bentsen, Hanson said that “the time I have spent working for you and Roger Altman at Treasury has been a privilege . . . but this is the right time for me to return to New York.”
Hanson’s testimony during the hearings called into question whether Altman had made a full accounting in testimony to congressional investigators of his contacts with the White House about a confidential criminal referral in a Resolution Trust Corp. investigation of Madison Guaranty Savings & Loan, the Arkansas thrift. Altman was acting chairman of the RTC at the time and Hanson was helping him with legal matters there, although both continued to fill their roles at Treasury.
Hanson said in her testimony that Altman told her to meet with White House Counsel Bernard Nussbaum last September to inform him about the criminal referral. The referral, which had not yet been issued at the time of the meeting, named Clinton’s 1984 gubernatorial campaign as a possible beneficiary of criminal wrongdoing at Madison Guaranty. Altman insisted that he did not know that Hanson had met with Nussbaum.