Billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife dies at 82

Jul 04 2014, 19:35 IST
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Scaife died early today at his home.(AP) Scaife died early today at his home.(AP)
SummarySome who dislike me may rejoice at the news," wrote Scaife, who acknowledged making political and other enemies.

Richard Mellon Scaife, the billionaire heir to the Mellon banking and oil fortune and a newspaper publisher who funded libertarian and conservative causes and various projects to discredit President Bill Clinton, has died. He was 82.

Scaife died early today at his home, his newspaper, the

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, reported. Scaife's death comes less than two months after he announced in a first-person,

front-page story in his Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that he had

an untreatable form of cancer.

"Some who dislike me may rejoice at the news," wrote

Scaife, who acknowledged making political and other enemies.

"Naturally, I can't share their enthusiasm."

He was the grand-nephew of Andrew Mellon, a banker and

secretary of the Treasury who was involved with some of the

biggest industrial companies of the early 20th century. Forbes

magazine estimated Scaife's net worth in 2013 at USD 1.4

billion.

The intensely private Scaife became widely known in the

1990s when first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton said her husband was being attacked by a "vast right-wing conspiracy."

White House staffers and other supporters suggested Scaife was playing a central role in the attack.

Several foundations controlled by Scaife gave millions of

dollars to organisations run by critics of Clinton, including

USD 1.7 million for a project at the conservative American

Spectator magazine to dig up information about his role in the

Whitewater real estate scandal.

Scaife rarely gave interviews, but in a sit-down with

George magazine editor John F Kennedy Jr in 1998, he called

President Clinton "an embarrassment."

In the interview, Scaife denied that his money helped

support an effort to hurt the president, but he suggested

Clinton might be linked to the deaths of dozens of

administration officials and associates, including White House

Deputy Counsel Vince Foster and onetime Commerce Secretary Ron Brown.

Foster's death was determined to be a suicide; Brown died in a plane crash.

Scaife also accused Kenneth Starr, the independent counsel

whose investigation led to Clinton's impeachment in the Monica Lewinsky sex scandal, to be a "mole working for the

Democrats."

Scaife's stance toward the Clintons softened years later.

In an interview published in early 2008, he told Vanity

Fair magazine he and the former president had a "very

pleasant" lunch the previous summer, and "I never met such a

charismatic man in my whole life."

Clinton gave Scaife an autographed copy of his book, and

Scaife said he later sent USD 100,000 to the Clinton Global

Initiative. (Scaife also said philandering "is something that

Bill Clinton and I have in common.")

Scaife's newspaper also endorsed Hillary Rodham Clinton's

bid for president in 2008.

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