The seven-year, $70 million Whitewater investigation that toppled an Arkansas governor and dogged Bill Clinton for most of his presidency officially drew to a close Monday when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the last remaining appeal.LINK: Whitewater investigation finally ends
Former Gov. Jim Guy Tucker had asked the high court to let him withdraw a guilty plea in a tax-conspiracy case that he said was based on an outdated law. Tucker was accused of crookedly scheming to reduce his tax liability on the sale of a cable television system.
"It has been drawn out a long time," said W. Hickman Ewing, who was a chief deputy to Whitewater special prosecutor Kenneth W. Starr. "It just shows you people can keep things going."
Tucker became Arkansas governor in 1992 after Clinton was elected president. He resigned in 1996 after being convicted in a separate case, also brought by Whitewater prosecutors, involving a small business loan. Because of poor health, Tucker never went to prison but served 18 months of home detention.
In the cable case, Tucker's previous arguments led a federal judge to cut the amount of restitution owed from $1 million to $63,000. Tucker argued further that the government used the wrong section of the law when it pursued him.
"It's disappointing that there will never be a report in a court of law as to how this independent counsel, with all its resources and purported brilliance, managed to indict a citizen by use of a repealed statute," Tucker said Monday.
The appeal was the lone remnant of the Clinton-era Whitewater probe, and the cable television case had nothing to do with the Arkansas land development that gave the investigation its name. Starr won permission from then-Attorney General Janet Reno to broaden the investigation when Tucker's name came up in the business loan case.
Tucker has long argued that he would never have been pursued by prosecutors if not for Clinton. Ewing said Monday: "It's probably true."
In a 1996 trial involving the business loan, a federal jury convicted Tucker with former Clinton Whitewater business partners James and Susan McDougal. Tucker quit and was replaced by Mike Huckabee, who still holds the job.
Clinton was never charged.
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Official Website: The Hunting of the President, official movie site