During Clinton-Lewinsky scandal, Linda Tripp was ‘Columbia’s most talked-about resident’

Former Columbia resident Linda Tripp, pictured in 1998, died this week.
Former Columbia resident Linda Tripp, pictured in 1998, died this week.(DENNIS COOK/AP)

In a community designed to encourage neighborliness, Linda Tripp stood out for her remoteness.

“She never waves to anyone, that’s all we know,” her then neighbor Mark Farfaras told The Baltimore Sun in 1998.


Tripp died this week at the age of 70. The former Columbia resident rose to fame — or infamy — after recording conversations with Monica Lewinsky about her affair with then president Bill Clinton. A 2000 article in The Sun called Tripp the “woman who nearly brought down a president."

In 1998, after Clinton’s relationship with Lewinsky became public, reporters from around the world flocked to Tripp’s two-story home on Cricket Pass.


The media frenzy amused Tripp’s neighbors in the Village of Hickory Ridge. One enterprising 14-year-old resident began charging camera crews and reporters $3 a visit to use his bathroom.

Long before the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal, The Sun reported in 1998 that Tripp had been involved in a more mundane spat. A dispute over dog doo.

According to the account, five years earlier, Tripp’s Labrador, Cleo, relieved itself on the lawn of her next door neighbors.

Incensed, neighbor Regina Valentine brought the issue to Howard County’s Animal Matters Hearing Board.

The board fined Tripp $25 for letting her dog run loose of its leash. In a letter to the board, Tripp accused Valentine of a “complex vendetta.”

"Have any of you animal owners ever tried to stop a dog mid-stream in the defecation process?" she asked the board.

The two neighbors’ relationship seemed to have soured permanently. In 1998, they were still ignoring each other at the Cricket Pass mailboxes. Sun reporters noted that Columbia’s mastermind Jim Rouse had designed the shared mailboxes to encourage neighbors to chat and get to one another.

“It doesn’t seem to have worked with Linda Tripp,” the authors noted, dryly.

Clinton was impeached at the end of 1998. Some praised Tripp’s role in exposing Clinton’s predatory behavior, others slammed her betrayal of Lewinsky.

The following year, a Howard County grand jury indicted Tripp on two counts of violating Maryland’s wiretap law. A state prosecutor later dropped the case.

In 2000, Tripp bade farewell to Cricket Pass. She moved to a 100-acre horse farm in Marshall, Virginia.

“I think Linda moved to try to regain privacy in her life,” her criminal defense lawyer Joseph Murtha told The Sun at the time. “She was looking for an area that would offer her a more private environment.”

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