Ken Starr, Who Led Whitewater Investigation Into Clinton Administration, Dies at 76

Kenneth Starr, a former US attorney general who led the Whitewater investigation into the Clinton administration that began with investigations into alleged improper real estate transactions but escalated into broader investigations that led to the impeachment of President Bill Clinton, died on 13 September in Houston. He was 76 years old.

The death was due to complications from surgery at Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center in Houston, according to his family.

Mr. Starr used his role as an independent attorney to go far beyond the initial investigations into Arkansas real estate transactions during Clinton’s time as Arkansas attorney general in the late 1970s and later as governor. The inquiries led to questions about President Bill Clinton’s perjury over a sexual relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

Clinton was impeached in December 1998 by the House, but was acquitted by the Senate.

After Clinton’s impeachment trial, Starr would become president of Baylor University in Texas. But in May 2016, Baylor removed Starr as university president after an investigation found that the university had mishandled sexual assault allegations against its football players. Mr. Starr remained as chancellor and professor of law. The university also fired its football coach, Art Briles.

A statement from Baylor President Linda A. Livingstone made no mention of his removal. “Judge Starr was a dedicated public servant and an ardent supporter of the religious liberty that allows faith-based institutions like Baylor to flourish,” she said.

For supporters of the Clintons, Whitewater became shorthand for a growing effort by political opponents to find evidence of wrongdoing using the powers of independent counsel. But Starr’s investigation led to actual convictions on a lower level, including an 18-month prison sentence for Arkansas business figure Susan McDougal for contempt of court for refusing to answer Whitewater-related investment-related questions.

Levinsky, in a tweet, he wrote that thoughts of Mr. Starr “bring up complicated feelings”, but acknowledged that it was a “painful loss for those who love him”.

Making the 435-page Starr Report public in 1998 was not easy as an initial attempt to use the Internet for widespread access. Starr’s team wrote the document in WordPerfect, but congressional officials converted it to HTML, “the format used on the Internet.” the washington post reported at the time. That process resulted in a series of “mostly insubstantial” errors that “did not alter the meaning of Starr’s report.”

Kenneth Winston Starr, the youngest of three children, was born in Vernon, North Texas, on July 21, 1946. His father was a barber and a minister in the Church of Christ. His parents were farmers’ sons and family life centered around church and Sunday school teachings.

Mr. Starr grew up primarily in San Antonio. Widely described as a serious straight arrow who carried himself with low-key confidence, he excelled in every high school endeavor except track and field and was elected class president. He said he was first excited about national politics during the 1960 presidential campaign and identified in particular with Richard M. Nixon because of their shared background, although he said he later became a member of the Young Democrats and a supporter of Hubert H. Humphrey. in the presidential elections of 1968.

He sold Bibles door-to-door to pay his tuition at what is now Harding University, a Church of Christ school in Searcy, Ark., and was involved in student activities before transferring to George Washington University after two years. years.

He recalled the transition as a shock, seeing students protest the war in Vietnam that he supported (even though he reportedly failed his draft physical). He stood out on campus in other ways, favoring the suit and tie as his classroom attire at an institution where blue jeans were prevalent as his classmates’ choice of dress.

He graduated in 1968, then received a master’s degree in political science the following year from Brown University in Providence. He completed his law studies at Duke University in 1973 and began his rapid ascent in legal apprenticeships, eventually becoming a law clerk to Chief Justice Warren E. Burger.

In 1977, he joined the Los Angeles firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher to practice corporate law and impressed one of the partners, William French Smith, who became attorney general after Ronald Reagan was elected president in 1980. His protégé followed him to Justice. Department and distinguished himself on high-profile issues that shaped conservative policy on social issues, including reversing federal opposition to organized prayer in school and finding voluntary ways other than busing to promote the elimination of school segregation.

His journey was amazing. At 37, she became the youngest person ever to be appointed to the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, a court seen as a stepping stone to the Supreme Court.

Azi Paybarah contributed to this report.

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