Arkansas Business' 25 Clintonites (25th Anniversary)

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Monday, Mar. 23, 2009 12:00 am  

In the middle of this turmoil, Tucker, suffering from chronic liver problems, was literally fighting for his life. In August 1996, Judge George Howard, taking Tucker's ill health into consideration, sentenced him to four years of probation. In December 1996, he got a liver transplant. 

In February 1998, Tucker pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge related to the first indictment.

Tucker, 65, is now a businessman in Little Rock and a co-owner of the Arkansas Twisters.

23. David Watkins
Watkins, Hope native, founder of a Little Rock ad agency and a longtime friend and supporter of Clinton, signed on to his presidential campaign just as he had for previous campaigns. And when Clinton won the White House, Watkins followed, becoming assistant to the president for management and administration, overseeing, among other things, Air Force One and office assignments.

He became enmeshed in Travelgate and then in 1994 was accused of using a military helicopter to travel to a golf course. He was fired. He was the first of the Arkansans brought to D.C. to lose his job, according to press reports.

In an interview, Watkins called Clinton "the greatest seducer I've ever met."

24. James Lee Witt
Witt, unlike so many, came out of his tenure in the Clinton administration with his reputation intact, in fact, heightened.

Witt moved smoothly from the state's Office of Emergency Services, which he headed, to director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. It was a troubled agency when he took over and not so troubled when he left in 2001.

He dealt with floods, tornadoes, earthquakes and hurricanes but said the disaster that affected him the most was the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995.

The former Yell County judge opened James Lee Witt Associates in D.C. in 2001.

After Hurricane Katrina and FEMA's bungled response, Witt was often cited as someone who actually knew what he was doing. A Sept. 12, 2005, article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution said: "During the Clinton administration ... FEMA Director James Lee Witt gained Cabinet-level status and, using the agency's grant programs, built relationships with state and local emergency managers. The agency's image soared."

Shortly after Barack Obama was elected president, Witt's name circulated as a possible choice to head FEMA again, but there were hurdles. After Katrina, Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco hired James Lee Witt Associates to help with the recovery effort. A 2007 NBC News investigation accused Witt's firm of "profiteering" in its cleanup work. The company vigorously denied the allegations.



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