Raising questions about the Clintons' N.Y. house deal

September 16, 1999

Here is an excerpt of an editorial from Newsday, which was published Monday.

HERE COME those dreaded words again: the appearance of impropriety. No doubt about it: The President and Mrs. Clinton got a very sweet deal on their new house in Chappaqua, N.Y. And while it may be legal, it doesn't look very good.

Terry McAuliffe, a Washington wheeler-dealer, put up $1.35 million of his own money to help the Clintons buy the $1.7-million mansion.

The first couple certainly threaded the legal needle: Mr. McAuliffe's money is technically neither a gift nor a loan; it's mortgage collateral.

There is the question of the lower interest rate that the Clintons will get by completely collateralizing the transaction. But presidents can accept gifts, and this transaction has, obviously, been fully disclosed.

Of course, what hasn't been fully disclosed -- how could it be? -- is the understanding between Mr. McAuliffe and the Clintons.

Even presuming that there's nothing corrupt in their relationship, it still remains the case that The Macker, as he is known in Washington, is a one-man special interest who stands to benefit from his facilitation.

Even if he gets nothing more in return from the Clintons than a particularly effusive Christmas card this year, he can't be unhappy about having his picture in every TV news account and newspaper after the sale of the house: He's the new Man to See in Washington.

The corrupting reality that Washington is awash in easy, sleazy money is nothing new. But the Clintons, it will be remembered, promised seven years ago to put an end to the putting-oneself-first values of the decade of greed.

Now they seem to have grown quite comfortable with the Beltway and its seductive ways.

That's the way they want it, obviously. But somebody should remind Mrs. Clinton that the voters rather liked their original 1992 promises.

Pub Date: 9/16/99

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