To Catch a Falling Starr
So now we learn that Whitewater special prosecutor Kenneth Starr
is paying $3,200 a week, in taxpayers' money, to a part-time
ethics adviser. That computes to more than $150,000 a year -and
raises yet more questions about Starr's ethics.
Why, one might ask, does anyone in government need to invest so much
money to get ethics advice? Normally, government officials with
ethics questions consult the Office of Government Ethics or the
inspectors general assigned to agencies throughout Washington.
The very size of the payment and the identity of the recipient,
however, suggest a motive. Starr, the conservative Republican
investigating President Clinton's Whitewater real estate venture,
picked Democratic lawyer Samuel Dash of Watergate fame. Dash's clean
reputation has helped protect Starr from accusations that he is on a
political head-hunting mission for his Republican friends.
As more and more guestions arise about Starr's conflicts of interest,
Dash keeps stepping forward as a kind of public relations spokesman.
When Starr represents deep-pocket clients who want to see Bill Clinton
ousted from the White House -- while Starr's Whitewater probe is trying to
do just that -- Dash is the one who tells the press that there's no conflict
Recently, when pressed on how he reached some of his judgments, Dash has
stretched his lawyer's language to defend Starr. "What he's doing is
proper," Dash told the New Yorker's Jane Meyer. "But it does have an oder
But later, Dash explained to The Washington Post that he really didn't mean
what he had been quoted saying. What he meant was that others might detect
an oder. "I didn't use the word 'proper,'" Dash added. "'Proper' is a weasel
word. I think what I tried to say -- and maybe I misstated -- is
everything he's doing is 'legal' and 'ethical' and 'lawful' -not
The Dash-Starr arrangement makes eminently good sense for Starr.
The Republican prosecutor takes $3,200 a week out of the U.S.
Treasury and gives it to Dash. Then Starr supplements his
government salary by earning hundreds of thousands of dollars
from representation of conservative groups and major tobacco
companies. Starr then can cite Dash's paid-for advice that it's
What makes less sense is why Dash would let his life-long
reputation as a respectable Washington lawyer (although the
phrase itself sounds like an oxymoron) be tarnished by entering
into such a dubious arrangement. The sad conclusion that one
must begin to draw is that Sam Dash has traded his reputation
for $3,200 a week.
Without doubt, the Whitewater scandal is a sordid affair,
revealing money-grubbing by the First Family. But it is fast
becoming equally sordid for what it's revealing about the
Republicans who both want to exploit the scandal for political
gain and to profit off the scandal for monetary gain.
(c) Copyright 1996 -- Please Do Not Re-Post
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