Bill Clinton

Bill Clinton ALS to Dan Rostenkowski, just Months after the Former Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee's Election Loss and Federal Indictment



Bill Clinton 2x Signed ALS to Dan Rostenkowski, just Months after the Former Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee's Election Loss and Federal Indictment

 

1p ALS inscribed overall and 2x signed by sitting 42nd U.S. President Bill Clinton (born 1946), the first as "Bill Clinton" at bottom, and the second as "This President" within the body of the letter. On cream watermarked stationery with gilt embossed presidential seal at top, and "The White House / Washington" cobalt blue letterhead. Written in Washington, D.C. on December 1, 1994. A light smudge near the left side and lightly toned, else near fine. 7" x 10.5".

 

President Bill Clinton wrote this 59-word-long farewell note to Dan Rostenkowski (1928-2010), less than one month after the latter's unsuccessful political reelection, and six months to the day following the Illinois Congressman's federal indictment on 17 felony charges.

 

"Dear Dan

 

You'll never know how much your support and wise counsel have meant to me.

 

As you leave Congress, I hope you will go with the immense pride you should have in all you've done for our country.

 

You have the gratitude of this President whom you served so well.

 

Thank you. Godspeed,

Bill Clinton."

 

Clinton does not reference either of the two embarrassing circumstances behind Rostenkowski's early retirement. Instead, the president expresses his appreciation for Rostenkowski's long record of public service, anticipating his 2000 presidential pardon of Rostenkowski.

 

Dan Rostenkowski had represented Illinois's 5th District in the U.S. House of Representatives since 1959. A Democrat, Rostenkowski had worked closely with Republican President Ronald Reagan and been appointed Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee in 1981. "Rosty" was one of the most influential politicians on Capitol Hill through the early 1990s, and one of Bill Clinton's biggest political supporters. In his 2004 autobiography My Life, Clinton wrote: "Besides the Speaker and his leadership team, my strongest supporter was the powerful chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Illinois Congressman Dan Rostenkowski. Rostenkowski was a superb legislator who combined a fine mind with Chicago street skills" (p. 421).

 

On June 1, 1994, a federal grand jury indicted Rostenkowski on various counts including corruption, mail fraud, and obstruction of justice. Rostenkowski's Chicago constituents reacted to these accusations by electing his Republican opponent Michael Patrick Flanagan (born 1962) in the November 8, 1994 mid-term elections. It was under these somber circumstances that Rostenkowski was leaving Congress in December 1994.

 

Rostenkowski was sentenced to 17 months in federal prison, and later served 15 months. On December 23, 2000, President Clinton officially pardoned his former colleague. In My Life, Clinton explained the rationale behind his clemency, stating, "Rostenkowski had done a lot for his country and had more than paid for his mistakes" (p. 757).

 


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