The Clintons (Frank Johnston/The Washington Post)
The drama now known as Whitewater has a definitive starting point: a land purchase in 1978. It has taken a complicated course ever since. Follow the unraveling of allegations with this timeline.
Arkansas Attorney General Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton join with James B. and Susan McDougal to borrow $203,000 to buy 220 acres of land in Arkansas' Ozark Mountains. They soon form the Whitewater Development
Corp., intending to build vacation homes.
Clinton is elected governor.
Clinton loses his reelection bid and enters private legal practice.
James McDougal, who served briefly as Gov. Clinton's economic development director, quits government to
buy a small bank in Kingston, Ark. He loans $30,000 to Hillary Clinton to build a model house on a Whitewater lot.
McDougal buys a small savings and loan and names it Madison Guaranty.
After two years as a private citizen, Clinton is once again elected governor.
Federal regulators begin to question the financial stability and lending practices of Madison Guaranty, criticizing Madison's speculative land deals, insider-lending and hefty commissions paid to the McDougals and others.
Clinton is reelected.
James McDougal holds a fund-raising event at Madison Guaranty to help pay off a $50,000 Clinton campaign debt. Investigators later determine some of the money was improperly withdrawn from depositor funds.
McDougal hires the Rose Law Firm, where Hillary Clinton is a partner, to do legal work for the ailing savings and loan.
Hillary Clinton and another Rose lawyer seek state regulatory approval for recapitalization plan for Madison.
McDougal borrows $300,000 from a company owned by David Hale, a former Little Rock judge. Hale's company receives federal funds from the Small Business Administration to lend to disadvantaged business owners, but an investigation 10 years later alleges that he lent up to $3 million to political figures instead.
Citing improper practices, federal regulators remove McDougal as Madison Guaranty's president, but he retains ownership.
Witnesses from the Rose Law Firm say Hillary Clinton requested the destruction of Madison land contract files.
Hillary Clinton writes James McDougal to ask for power of attorney to sell off remaining Whitewater lots and clear up bank obligations.
Madison Guaranty collapses after a series of bad loans and a change in government accounting procedures. The federal government shuts it down and spends $60 million bailing it out.
James McDougal is indicted on federal fraud charges related to his management of a Madison real estate subsidiary.
McDougal is acquitted.
The Clinton presidential campaign gathers information on Whitewater and Madison Guaranty. A report commissioned by the campaign claims the Clintons lost $68,000 on Whitewater, an estimate later adjusted down to somewhat over $40,000.
The Federal Resolution Trust Corp., investigating causes of Madison's failure, sends a referral to the Justice Department that names the Clintons as "potential beneficiaries" of illegal activities at Madison.
Clinton's first term as president begins.
White House fires seven employees in the travel office, possibly to make room for Clinton friends. An FBI investigation of the office ensues, allegedly opened under pressure from the White House to justify the firings.
Deputy White House Counsel Vincent Foster files three years of delinquent Whitewater corporate tax returns.
Foster is found dead in a Washington area park. Police rule the death a suicide. Federal investigators are not allowed access to Foster's office immediately after the discovery, but White House aides enter Foster's office shortly after his death, giving rise to speculation that files were removed from his office.
First of three meetings in which Treasury Department officials tip off Clinton aides about the progress of the RTC investigation.
RTC's criminal referral is rejected by Paula Casey, U.S. attorney in Little Rock and former law student of Bill Clinton.
The White House agrees to turn over Whitewater documents to the Justice Department, which had been preparing to subpoena them. These documents include files found in Foster's office.
Attorney General Janet Reno names New York lawyer and former U.S. attorney Robert B. Fiske Jr. as special counsel to investigate the Clintons' involvement in Whitewater. Fiske announces he will also explore a potential link between Foster's suicide and his intimate knowledge of the developing Whitewater scandal.
Republican attorney Jay Stephens is appointed to head the Resolution Trust Corp.'s investigation of the failure of Madison Guaranty.
Webster L. Hubbell abruptly resigns as associate attorney general after allegations are raised about his conduct at the Rose Law Firm. Two of Clinton's top political advisers call business friends and line up more than $500,000 for Hubbell, including $100,000 from the Lippo Group. Hubbell is later convicted of fraud and serves 18 months in jail.
The House and Senate Banking committees begin hearings on Whitewater. Twenty-nine Clinton administration officials are subpoenaed or testify at congressional hearings. All are cleared of any wrongdoing.
August 5, 1994
A U.S. Court of Appeals panel refuses to re-appoint Fiske as special counsel, citing a possible conflict of interest because he was appointed by Clinton's attorney general, Janet Reno. Kenneth W. Starr, a former federal appeals court judge and U.S. solicitor who worked in the Reagan and Bush administrations, succeeds Fiske as the independent counsel to investigate Whitewater-Madison matters. He reissues subpoenas for documents, such as the Rose billing records of Hillary Clinton.
© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company
Back to the top