The Current Crisis

Cisneros Report Stirred Worries of Democrats

From Monday's New York Sun: a New Democrat Scandal.

By and 1.16.06

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From the New York Sun:

WASHINGTON - A long-awaited report detailing an independent counsel investigation of a former secretary of housing and urban development, Henry Cisneros, outlines a coordinated effort by Clinton administration officials to first block and then limit the probe as a way of taking pressure off an administration that was already beset by scandals.

The report, by independent counsel David Barrett, is scheduled for release on January 19. Details of it have been disclosed to the New York Sun by persons familiar with its contents.

The release of the report coincides with the end of an investigation that began in 1995 with Mr. Barrett examining events surrounding Mr. Cisneros's nomination. During his FBI background check, Mr. Cisneros lied about adulterous relations, his payments to a mistress, the extent of his income, and his tax filings with the Internal Revenue Service.

Mr. Cisneros, a former San Antonio mayor, eventually pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of lying to the FBI. He paid a $10,000 fine and was pardoned by President Clinton on Mr. Clinton's final day in office.

Democrats have complained about the length and expense of Mr. Barrett's investigation, which cost more than $23 million when it closed this month. The report, excluding appendixes, runs to 428 pages. In it, Mr. Barrett is said to argue that Mr. Cisneros's mistress delayed the first half of the investigation by lying to a grand jury that was reviewing evidence in the case and that the second half was impeded by top Clinton administration officials.

Prior to serving as independent counsel, Mr. Barrett had a 30-year career practicing law in Washington. He served as special counsel to the House of Representatives' Ethics Committee from 1978 to 1979. Robert Bennett, a veteran of Washington's political and legal battles, said of Mr. Barrett: "I have known him for a long time. He's a straight shooter. I have very high regard for him. He's a man of integrity and honor."

People familiar with the report say Mr. Barrett's narrative focuses on the actions of a former chief of the Public Integrity Section of the Department of Justice, Lee Radek, and a former assistant chief counsel for criminal tax matters at the IRS, Barry Finkelstein. A Clinton friend and former IRS commissioner, Margaret Richardson, is not mentioned in the report despite earlier speculation that she would figure prominently, a source familiar with the report's contents said.

At issue in the second half of Mr. Barrett's investigation were the implications of a 1994 appearance that Mr. Cisneros's mistress, Linda Medlar, made on the program "Inside Edition." There she detailed the amount of money she had received over the years from Mr. Cisneros, triggering the call for an independent counsel. The interview raised questions about whether Mr. Cisneros had concealed substantial amounts of income from the IRS over a period of several years.

Spurred by Ms. Medlar's report of monthly gifts from Mr. Cisneros that ran into the tens of thousands of dollars annually, a regional IRS office in San Antonio, Texas, began looking into possible tax violations by the Cabinet official. When the office of the independent counsel decided for similar reasons to look into possible tax violations, it asked the attorney general at the time, Janet Reno, for expanded jurisdiction and access to the findings of the ongoing IRS investigation.

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About the Author
R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr. is the founder and editor in chief of The American Spectator. He is the author of The Death of Liberalism, published by Thomas Nelson Inc. His previous books include the New York Times bestseller Boy Clinton: the Political Biography; The Impeachment of William Jefferson Clinton; The Liberal Crack-Up; The Conservative Crack-Up; Public Nuisances; The Future that Doesn't Work: Social Democracy's Failure in Britain; Madame Hillary: The Dark Road to the White House; The Clinton Crack-Up; and After the Hangover: The Conservatives' Road to Recovery.