Friends in Low Places

How close were the Clintons to a dubious Arkansas banker?

Jim McDougal was the kind of go-go entrepreneur that likes to befriend politicians but that politicians sometimes later regret ever having met. His friendship with fellow Arkansan Bill Clinton began in the late 1960s, when both were young staffers for Senator William Fulbright. In 1978 Bill and Hillary joined McDougal and his wife Susan in a real estate venture. A year later, Clinton became Governor and appointed McDougal his economic-development adviser. By the early 1980s, McDougal had left government work to make his fortune: he converted Madison Guaranty, a tiny institution, into one of the largest savings and loan associations in...

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