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Troopers Say Clinton Sought Silence on Personal Affairs : Arkansas: The White House calls their allegations about the President's private life 'ridiculous.'


LITTLE ROCK — Four Arkansas state troopers have revived allegations and offered new details about extramarital affairs that caused a crisis in Bill Clinton's campaign for the presidency. Two of the troopers say that Clinton, as President, sought to discourage them from speaking out by offering them federal jobs.

The troopers, who were on Clinton's security detail for several years while he was governor, describe a pattern of deception and indiscretions and say that he required them as state employees to go beyond their duties as bodyguards to help him conduct and hide these activities.

Bruce R. Lindsey, a senior White House official and Clinton confidant, said: "These allegations are ridiculous. Similar charges were made, investigated and responded to during the campaign. There is nothing that dignifies a further response."

Responding late Sunday night to questions submitted by The Times last Thursday, Lindsey said the President had called one of the troopers. But "any suggestion that the President offered anyone a job in return for silence is a lie," he said.

Allegations about the personal lives of Presidents are not new. While President, Thomas Jefferson was publicly accused by a disgruntled former supporter of having an intimate relationship with one of his slaves. The marriage of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt was reportedly all but formally ended by FDR's longtime involvement with Lucy Mercer. And accounts of the sexual conquests of John F. Kennedy have multiplied beyond counting.

For most of this century, propriety generally required that such matters be discussed only after the individual leaders were no longer alive. In recent years, however, those standards have been changing--propelling politicians, the public and the news media onto uncertain ground.

Today, the question of what inference should be drawn from a particular example of private conduct remains a matter of intense debate, influenced in part by a widening belief that personal character may be as important to a leader's performance as political party or ideology.

In Clinton's case, the new accusations by troopers who guarded him as governor are of a type not uncommon in the political milieu of his home state. Allegations of personal infidelities and rumors of sexual transgressions have been heard before in Arkansas politics, and Clinton has been no stranger to them.

But the breadth and detail of the troopers' statements--including charges that Clinton misled voters in 1992 about these matters--give their allegations special impact.

Clinton Guardians

The troopers are lawmen who knew the then-governor intimately--even, by their own accounts, as confidants. They drove him around the state, answered his phone and did errands, as well as protect him. They shared many private moments with him, joked with him, ate with him and became his shield from the public.

The troopers also shielded his infidelities, they allege, from his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, as well as the public.

It was that part, the troopers said, that they came to resent, along with what they regarded as an increasingly cavalier way Clinton began to treat them.

The troopers said they were often called upon to act as intermediaries to arrange and conceal his extramarital encounters. They say they frequently picked up and delivered gifts from Clinton to various women and often drove Clinton in his state limousine to meetings with women.

"We were more than bodyguards. We had to lie, cheat and cover up for that man," said Larry G. Patterson, a 26-year veteran state trooper who spent five years on Clinton's security unit.

Patterson, 49, is one of two troopers who have signed affidavits for the Los Angeles Times to buttress his charges. The other is Roger L. Perry, 44, a 16-year veteran of the state police and president of the Arkansas State Police Assn., who also served on Clinton's security detail for about four years.

Two other troopers supported their accounts but have declined to be identified.

In a separate set of interviews, the same troopers also spoke to The American Spectator, a magazine specializing in conservative opinion, which published its account of their charges in its current, January issue. CNN aired taped interviews with Patterson and Perry Sunday evening, and ABC and NBC broadcast stories on the allegations Monday night.

The troopers provided the names of other women they said they believed had been involved in affairs with Clinton while he was governor. Their names will not be published in this story to protect their privacy with the exception of Gennifer Flowers, who publicly claimed in January of 1992 that she had a 12-year affair with Clinton.

Women Interviewed

In a series of four interviews, one of those women initially denied knowing Clinton. In a later conversation, she denied that she and Clinton had "an improper relationship."

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