James ‘Jim’ McDougal, Clinton Whitewater partner, Dies in Prison

James McDougal, a banker whose corrupt Whitewater real estate development “tainted former business partner and President at the time, Bill Clinton, and landed him in prison” on eighteen felony convictions according to the New York Times. McDougal was the “brains behind the Whitewater Development Corp.,” and reportedly died of cardiac arrest in a federal prison hospital at the age of 58. He had been cooperating with independent counsel Kenneth Starr in the Whitewater investigation. “His death appears to reduce the legal risks to President Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton, and was a clear setback to Starr and his prosecutors, who huddled in their offices last night after McDougal’s death was announced,” the Baltimore Sun reported the day after McDougal died.

Just prior to another round of testimony before Kenneth Starr’s grand jury, and while the reporters who were covering that story were two hours away covering a standoff situation in Waco that just “went away”, Jim McDougal suffered a heart attack while in solitary confinement. Left alone for too long, when Jim McDougal was taken out of solitary, instead of attempting to defibrillate his heart with equipment on hand at the facility, he was driven over to John Peter Smith hospital. Not the closest hospital to the Fort Worth Federal Medical Center, John Peter Smith hospital is a welfare hospital, where (in the words of one local) ,”They let interns practice on deadbeats”.

Just prior to his death McDougal was injected with Lasix, a diuretic, to force him giving a urine sample for drug testing, even though McDougal was not a known drug case. Lasix is contra-indicated in cases of heart disease. Lasix can cause excessive diuresis, blood volume reduction, circulatory collapse, and vascular thrombosis, or blood clots. If a matching potassium supplement is not administered at the same time, Lasix can kill. McDougal may have been taking the heart medication Digitalin (foxglove) which cannot be combined with Lasix. Several inmates had gone public with the claim that McDougal was given a heavy injection of Lasix right after he ate lunch, but the prison system has refused to allow those prisoners to be interviewed. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram eventually acquired the official report of the McDougal death via a Freedom of Information Act request, and found that doctors ignored McDougal’s signs of imminent death.

The Whitewater investigation began in 1994 with accusations of impropriety against the Clintons and others concerning improper campaign contributions, political and financial favors, and tax benefits. Its initial subject was a failed Arkansas real-estate venture involving the Clintons in the 1980s that was linked to the collapse of Madison Guaranty Savings and Loan, a Little Rock savings bank run by McDougal and his wife, Susan. James and Susan McDougal went to prison for fraud (James died while serving his sentence), as did former Arkansas Gov. Jim Tucker and municipal judges David Hale and Eugene Fitzhugh.

Hale had claimed Bill Clinton insisted that he acquire a fraudulent $300,000 government-backed loan in 1986. After McDougal was convicted in 1996, he was prepared to testify that Clinton was lying and Hale was telling the truth. “I just got sick and tired of lying for the fellow,” he said in a 1997 TV interview. “Yes, I was trying to protect him.”

The Sun reported, “McDougal told prosecutors that he steered Madison legal business to Hillary Clinton’s Rose Law Firm at the Clintons’ request. Mrs. Clinton has denied that assertion. In an interview on ‘Larry King Live,’ McDougal said that if the first lady told the grand jury the same story she told the public, ‘then she has perjured herself.’”

James McDougal’s ex-wife spent time in prison for refusing to give testimony dealing with the WhiteWater scandal. When James McDouglas died in prison from an apparent heart attack, she simply implicated him as he could no longer defend himself.

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