Pepperdine Sun Too Hot for Starr

  • Share
  • Read Later
WASHINGTON: Ken Starr is saying good-bye to his deanship-by-the-sea. But despite talk of "moral commitments" in today's surprise announcement, the move isn't simply because Starr is worried about keeping Pepperdine's law school waiting while he hunts assorted Arkansas game. It's what TIME Justice Department correspondent Elaine Shannon calls the "look bad" rule.

"Starr got caught in an untenable position," says Shannon. "Starr's deanship is funded by Richard Mellon Scaife. If David Hale, Starr's key Whitewater witness, is also helped financially by Scaife, both Hale and Starr have a credibility problem."

When the Hale story broke last week, Democrats quickly demanded a Justice Department investigation into the connection. But instead of rattling its sword, says Shannon, Justice did the clever thing: It passed the potato back to Starr. "Reno tested Starr by saying, 'Take care of this yourself. We'll see how much integrity you have now.' She put Starr in an embarrassing position, and he had to quit." Reno gets to look impartial; Starr gets taken down a notch. And if he wants to move to Malibu, now he'll have to pay his own way.