March 16, 2014

L.A. TIMES: In old memo, a glimpse of conflict ahead for Hillary Clinton?

Four months after Bill Clinton took office in 1992, the White House announced that it was firing all seven employees of the in-house travel office, which arranged trips for the media. Officials blamed the employees for gross financial mismanagement — but the move took on another cast when the administration sought to replace them with a travel agency from Arkansas.

Hillary Clinton insisted in a 1995 deposition that she had no role in the firings. But an investigation by independent counsel Robert W. Ray found that there was “overwhelming evidence” that she had played a role. Still, he said in a report released in the fall of 2000, only months before the Clintons left the White House, there was not sufficient evidence to prove that she had lied under oath about what she had done.

“Mrs. Clinton’s input into the process was a significant — if not the significant — factor influencing the pace of events in the travel office firings and the ultimate decision to fire the employees,” Ray concluded.

As one of the first moves made by the Clinton administration, the travel office brouhaha helped craft an impression of the new White House couple as, at best, willing to run roughshod over employees in order to install loyalists. Ultimately, the administration admitted the firings were a mistake, and five of the employees were rehired. The former travel office director, a well-known and popular figure at the White House, was acquitted of criminal embezzlement charges.

All seven travel office veterans appeared before Congress the day after the president praised his wife in the State of the Union address. Angry and tearful, they testified that the accusations by the Clinton White House had ruined them financially by forcing them to incur massive legal bills to clear their names.

But she’ll run as a friend of the little guy.