First fe­male U.S. at­tor­ney gen­eral a po­lar­iz­ing fig­ure

Fa­mously blunt ex-pros­e­cu­tor later made un­suc­cess­ful bid to be­come Florida gover­nor


MIAMI— Janet Reno, the first woman to serve as U.S. at­tor­ney gen­eral and the epi­cen­tre of sev­eral po­lit­i­cal storms dur­ing the Bill Clin­ton ad­min­is­tra­tion, died early Mon­day. She was 78.

Reno died from com­pli­ca­tions of Parkin­son’s dis­ease, her god­daugh- ter Gabrielle D’Alem­berte said. D’Alem­berte said Reno spent her fi­nal days at home in Miami sur­rounded by fam­ily and friends.

Reno, a for­mer Miami pros­e­cu­tor who fa­mously told re­porters, “I don’t do spin,” served nearly eight years as at­tor­ney gen­eral un­der Clin­ton, the long­est stint in a cen­tury.

One of the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s most rec­og­niz­able and po­lar­iz­ing fig­ures, Reno faced crit­i­cism early in her ten­ure for the deadly raid on the Branch Da­vid­ian com­pound at Waco, Texas, where sect leader David Koresh and 80 fol­low­ers per­ished.

She was known for de­lib­er­at­ing slowly, pub­licly and in a typ­i­cally blunt man­ner. Reno fre­quently told the pub­lic “the buck stops with me,” bor­row­ing the mantra from pres­i­dent Harry S. Tru­man.

Af­ter leav­ing Wash­ing­ton, Reno re­turned to Florida and made an un­suc­cess­ful run for gover­nor in 2002.

Af­ter re­tir­ing from pol­i­tics, Reno, who never mar­ried, served on the boards or as an ad­viser to sev­eral or­ga­ni­za­tions.

Asked to de­scribe her legacy af­ter end­ing her gubernatorial cam­paign, Reno quoted Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton:

“If I were to write all that down I might be re­duced to tears. I would pre­fer to drift on down the stream of life and let his­tory make the judg­ment.”

Janet Reno served nearly eight years in Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton’s ad­min­is­tra­tion.

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