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Clinton Connected With Correnti To Lobby for Big River Steel Plant

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John Correnti, the man behind Big River Steel and this week’s Executive Q&A, thought he was being pranked when former President Bill Clinton called to lobby Correnti to put his $1 billion-plus steel mill in Arkansas.

The two met in the mid-1980s when Correnti came to Arkansas with plans to build the Nucor Corp. mill that eventually wound up in Blytheville. He and the then-governor got on well together, Correnti said, and stayed friendly through Clinton’s White House years.

“I hadn’t talked to him since he got out of office. And my phone rang. … I’m in Toronto … at the airport at this conference room. And I can’t remember whether the phone said ‘blocked’ or ‘unknown.’ And I says, ‘Hello?’ And they say, ‘Is this John Correnti?’ and I say, ‘Yes.’ And they say, ‘Can you please hold for President Clinton?’ I didn’t believe it.

“And he said, ‘Hey, Correnti. You’re going to do it again.’ And I say, ‘How did you get this number?’ He says, ‘Arkansas Industrial Commission. I’m just lobbying you for Arkansas. Hey, I hope you come to Arkansas.’”

“I’m not ashamed to tell you,” Correnti told us, “I voted for him twice.”

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