Statement By The White House Regarding Allegations Of Improper Waivers For Burial In Arlington National Cemetery

The White House on Wednesday (November 19, 1997) denied a magazine report that alleges that political donors improperly got access to burial plots in U.S. military cemeteries.

“It would be outrageous for anyone to grant or influence the granting of exceptions under the rules for burial at national cemeteries because of political or fund-raising considerations,” Lanny Davis, special counsel to President Bill Clinton, said in a statement.

“Neither the president nor anyone at the White House ever made such a recommendation based on such considerations. The report making these allegations is scurrilous and untrue. It is based on anonymous sources and innuendo, not the facts,” the statement said.

The statement referred to a report in the Dec. 8 edition of the conservative magazine Insight.

An advance copy of the report said: “Burial plots in the national war cemeteries, including Arlington (National Cemetery), allegedly have been ‘bought’ by fat-cat donors to Clinton’s re-election committee and the DNC (Democratic National Committee) who aren’t even veterans.”

Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican called on Army Secretary Togo West and Veterans Affairs Acting Secretary Hershel Gober to investigate the report.

“Frankly, I find it difficult to believe that such a despicable practice could possibly have occurred,” McCain wrote to the two officials. “But even if one occurred, it would be a shameful example of political pandering that demeans the administration and dishonors the service of our nation’s veterans.”

John Metzler, superintendent of Arlington cemetery, said he objected to nine of the waivers granted for burial in the cemetery, but was overruled.

In an interview with local ABC affiliate WJLA-TV, Metzler declined to release the names of individuals granted waivers and buried in Arlington.

The station said one of those buried at Arlington was San Diego businessman Larry Lawrence, who donated over $10 million to the Democratic Party over 40 years, including $200,000 that went to President Clinton’s 1992 campaign.

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