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December 03, 1998 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily, 1998-12-03

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NATION/WORLD

The Michigan Daily - Thursday, December 3, 1998 - 7A

Espy cleare
WASHINGTON (AP)-A federal jury cleared for-
mer Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy of all 30 charges
against him yesterday in the climax to a four-year, $17
million corruption investigation headed by a prosecu-
tor who Espy called a "schoolyard bully"
President Clinton said in a statement he was pleased
with the verdict.
Espy was chased out of office in 1994 after allega-
ipns that he took illegal gifts on the job and then tried
to cover it up. Independent Counsel Donald Smaltz
Was already investigating Espy when the White House
asked the secretary to leave office.
-The case was the culmination of Smaltz's work, and
the independent counsel tried much of the case him-
self. Espy pleaded innocent, and always maintained he
was an innocent target of an overzealous prosecutor.
He now practices law in Mississippi.
"He's not unlike any other schoolyard bully," Espy

d of corruption charges

said of Smaltz. "You've got to stand up to him."
Outside the courthouse, Smaltz acknowledged disap-
pointment but said he accepts the outcome. "We met our
obligation and the jury has spoken," the prosecutor said.
The jury heard about two months of evidence and
spent slightly less than two days deliberating before
the foreperson faced Espy and slowly answered "not
guilty" as the judge read out each charge.
When she was done, Espy and his lawyers huddled
in a hug while relatives and supporters cried and held
onto one another in the front rows of the courtroom.
"It's cost a lot, it's been tough, but I knew from day
one that I would stand here before you completely
exonerated," Espy said outside the courthouse.
Espy had faced 30 counts covering about $33,000
worth of gifts and entertainment he received from
companies such as chicken giant Tyson Foods Inc. U.S.
District Judge Ricardo Urbina threw out an additional

eight charges before the jury began its deliberations.
Smaltz's investigation traced sports tickets, travel'
meals and trinkets such as a crystal bowl and an oil
painting that came from companies regulated by
Espy's department.
Federal ethics laws prohibit expensive gifts to public
officials. But Espy also was charged with more serious
violations of the Meat Inspection Act, which could
have meant three years in prison if he was convicted.
Smaltz had complained more than once during the
trial about references to race made by both defense
lawyers and by his own witnesses, and he made a
direct appeal to the jury in his closing arguments
Monday not to let "sympathy or race" color its verdict.
But he made no references to race after the verdict
came in. Espy was the first black secretary of agricul-
ture and the jury in the case was composed of I1
blacks and one white.

II,

A P PHOTOG
Former
Agriculture-
Secretary
Mike Espy
is escorted
by his
attorney in
Washington
yesterday.
He was
acquitted of
all counts
in his
corruption
case.

in a life
filled with uncertainty...

Livingston prepares to
take over speakership

-V.-.

1 ,'
V

'

N'. N.
~

:, A

WASHINGTON (AP) - Deliberately, and most-
behind closed doors, Rep. Bob Livingston (R-
.) is preparing to become House speaker next
month with little to say about his agenda and play-
ing no visible role in the increasingly clamorous
impeachment inquiry of President Clinton.
Two weeks after Republicans tapped him to succeed
th~e resigned Newt Gingrich, Livingston spends his
days mapping the House's legislative plans, schedule
and other details with colleagues and staff. He also has
met with influential outsiders including Jesse Jackson,
eonservative consultant Ralph Reed and White House
chief of staff John Podesta.
The Louisiana Republican has received a secure,
,rtable phone for emergency conversations with the
president. He has been briefed by Secretary of State
Madeleine Albright, Defense Secretary Bill Cohen
and Gen. Hugh Shelton, chairperson of the Joint
Chiefs of Staff.
But Livingston has all but gone underground in
terms of public appearances, a stark contrast with
Gingrich (R-Ga.), who burst on the scene with the
GOP's takeover.of the House on Election Day 1994
and immediately filled the air waves. So far,
*ingston has made just one public speech and con-
ducted one prolonged interview on network television,
making him what one Republican aide happily called
"the anti-Newt."
Livingston has been so quiet that the White House
end congressional Democrats accused him and
Gingrich yesterday of letting the House Judiciary
Committee's expanding impeachment probe run
amok.

"I think no one is in charge," said House Minority
Leader Dick Gephardt (R-Mo.)
Livingston and his aides insist he is playing no role
in guiding the probe headed by Judiciary Committee
Chairperson Henry Hyde (R-1ll.), Gingrich
spokesperson Christina Martin said yesterday that
Gingrich has played no impeachment role, making it
"a matter for Chairman Hyde and Speaker-elect
Livingston.'
With the judiciary panel expected to vote next week
on articles of impeachment, Livingston aides will not
comment on what role he will play if the matter shifts
to the full House. Almost everyone assumes that
Livingston will step in at that point and take the lead
in an issue he wants finished before he becomes
speaker in January.
"Ultimately, this comes to rest at his feet," said Rep.
Michael Castle (R-Del.).
When Gingrich became speaker-to-be four years
ago, hardly an issue arose that he didn't weigh in
on. Within weeks of the GOP's Election Day tri-
umph, he had spoken of rebuilding orphanages,
giving laptop computers to all schoolchildren and
drug usage by, he said, one-fourth of Clinton's
White House aides.
Gingrich's GOP colleagues tired of his often-con-
troversial pronouncements. Livingston's advisers say
his first weeks avoiding the spotlight demonstrate his
determination not to repeat the Gingrich pattern.
"I've encouraged him to be speaker of the House
and not a national talking heads star, where every
Sunday morning you create a new controversy for the
entire week," said Rep. Sonny Callahan (R-Ala.) a

n/\

I

It's nice to know
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thee' one thing
you can count on.
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AP PHOTO
Speaker of the House elect Bob Livingston has kept a
low profile in the two weeks since his appointment.
Livingston friend.
By avoiding publicity, Livingston has avoided
extensive comment about two unpleasant topics for
Republicans: their loss of five House seats in the
Nov. 3 voting and the impeachment probe. But allies
suggest his low profile has more to do with his per-
sonality and his instinct for focusing on the mechan-
ics of running the House and leaving publicity to oth-
ers.
In a brief tiptoe before the cameras, Livingston
plans to answer a few questions today with Senate
Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.), an old col-
league who as a House member represented a district
that abutted Livingston's.

LS

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" Bookc
VANDALS v _
ys, 'Nfs~

1]

You'll never crush
the rebellion! The
more you tighten
your grasp, the

,I

I

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