LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- When Gennifer Flowers first wrote to Gov. Bill Clinton to ask for help in landing a state job in 1986, he treated her the same as thousands of others who have made similar requests, a Clinton spokesman said yesterday.
But when Ms. Flowers finally did get a $17,500-a-year state job -- five years and several failed attempts after first trying -- it took a favorable change in a job classification by a gubernatorial appointee to clear the way.
Apart from that twist, state files and Ms. Flowers' own correspondence seem to support the assertion by Mr. Clinton's press secretary, Michael Gauldin, that she received no special treatment.
Ms. Flowers disappeared from the state payroll yesterday, automatically losing her job after a third straight day of unexcused absence.
Ms. Flowers created a national uproar last week in a paid interview with the supermarket tabloid the Star, claiming that Mr. Clinton, a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, had been her lover in a 12-year affair that ended in 1989. As an aside, she also mentioned that the governor had personally helped her get a state job.
Mr. Clinton has denied the allegations of an affair. He has also maintained that he offered no unusual assistance to help Ms. Flowers get a job.
Public opinion polls show that voters seem to care little about Mr. Clinton's personal life. But evidence of dishonesty in dealing with the allegations could hurt him more. And that's what has made the issue of Ms. Flowers' job -- and how she got it -- one of the threads of uncertainty that could unravel Mr. Clinton's campaign.
Ms. Flowers first wrote the governor about a job in early 1986, in a handwritten note that said:
"I certainly enjoyed speaking with you by phone!
"Enclosed, please find a business resume and an entertainer's resume.
"Anything you can do is much appreciated!!
She enclosed a copy of her resume.
By this time, according to Ms. Flowers' allegations in the Star, she would have been involved with the governor for nine years. Mr. Gauldin yesterday said he was struck by "the lack of intimacy in the tone of the letter."
He also said that the letter contains none of the markings Mr. Clinton usually makes to indicate that he has personally read a piece of mail -- in particular, a distinctive left-handed check mark.
He said the letter was assigned, as all such letters are, to gubernatorial staffer Judy Gaddy, whose main responsibility is to handle such requests.
Ms. Gaddy replied to Ms. Flowers with a standard form letter -- one that matched virtually word-for-word letters to other job seekers who were in Ms. Gaddy's files:
"Governor Clinton gave me your resume and asked that I help you with our job search. I would be glad to do anything I can to assist you. In order to assist you better, I need some further information. Please call me at [phone number] so that I can discuss possibilities in state government with you. I look forward to hearing from you."
After that, there was no follow-up either by Ms. Flowers or by the governor's office, according to a statement released by Mr. Gauldin.
More than four years later, in September 1990, Ms. Flowers telephoned Mr. Clinton at the Capitol to again ask for help in finding a job, Mr. Gauldin said. The matter was again referred to VTC Ms. Gaddy. Ms. Flowers then phoned Ms. Gaddy repeatedly over the next three months, and Ms. Gaddy in return sent her the public notices that had been posted for state job openings.
In early 1991, Ms. Flowers interviewed for a $15,200-a-year position at Arkansas Historical Heritage.
She then sent another handwritten letter to Mr. Clinton, who, according to her account in the Star, at that time would no longer have been romantically involved with her:
"Since we've been unable to connect by phone, I thought I should drop you a note.
"Judy [presumably meaning Judy Gaddy] has not been very successful in the job hunting area."
She then mentioned her interview at Arkansas Historical Heritage, and made a final appeal:
"Bill, I've tried to explain my financial situation to you and how badly I need a job. Enclosed is some correspondence that will be of interest to you."
The correspondence was a copy of a letter from her attorney, Robert M. McHenry, to Little Rock radio station KBIS, which three months earlier had aired part of a press release that alleged an affair between Mr. Clinton and Ms. Flowers.
The letter called the allegation untrue, and threatened a lawsuit unless the station offered Ms. Flowers monetary compensation within two weeks. (Mr. Clinton's campaign began citing the letter in his defense last week.)
Ms. Flowers wrote, "Unfortunately, it looks like I will have to persue [sic] the lawsuit to, hopefully, get some money to live on, until I can get employment."
This second letter also had none of the markings that usually indicated the governor had read it, Mr. Gauldin said. Despite her emotional plea, Ms. Flowers failed to land the Heritage job.
By this time, Mr. Clinton was all but in the race for president, and rumors of marital infidelity had already dogged his gubernatorial re-election campaign the year before.
Three months later, Ms. Gaddy referred Ms. Flowers to the Arkansas Merit System to be tested for an Administrative Assistant II position at the state Appeals Tribunal, which hears appeals of unemployment compensation cases.
State officials said that Ms. Gaddy heard of the opening from her husband, William Gaddy, who is director of the Employment Security Department.
Don Barnes, who hired Ms. Flowers, had changed the job from its earlier classification as a Unit Supervisor II, saying he wanted the job geared more toward public relations.
That prompted Charlene Perry, who was already working for the Appeals Tribunal, to file a grievance, alleging that the change had been made to help Ms. Flowers.
An appeals panel agreed, but Mr. Barnes, who had made the change, overruled the panel and the grievance.