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Connections Are Key In Asian Business Culture -- Feb. 24, 1997
Clinton Ok'd Using Lincoln Bedroom For Contributors
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Feb. 25) -- President Bill Clinton himself gave the go-ahead to invite political supporters to spend the night at the White House, and says there was nothing wrong with it.
"I did not have any strangers here," Clinton told reporters today. "The Lincoln Bedroom was never sold. That was one more false story we have had to endure, and the facts will show what the truth is." (128K WAV sound)
Clinton, who was asked about the White House sleepovers during a drug control briefing, said that in early 1995, a lot of friends who helped get him elected in 1992 thought he had not kept in touch with them.
Clinton said then-national campaign fund-raiser Terence McAuliffe sent him a memorandum, suggesting what they ought to do to re-establish contact, and Clinton said he told him to proceed.
Clinton said he also told an aide he wanted to ask some of his friends to come to the White House and spend the night.(384K WAV sound)
The White House released more than 500 pages of documents, and Clinton said the information would show he did nothing wrong.
"And you will see that the people that worked for me, and helped to raise funds for me, were a small percentage of the total number of people who stayed at the White House," Clinton said.
"But they were my friends, and I was proud to have them here, and I do not believe people who lawfully raise money for people running for office are bad people. I think they are good people. They make the system work that we have now. I'm proud that they helped me, and I was proud to have them here," he said.
The documents show that Clinton scribbled his enthusiastic approval for the overnight stays on the McAuliffe memorandum, which recommended that major financial supporters be invited to meals, coffees, rounds of golf or jogging excursions.
"Yes, pursue all 3 and promptly -- and get other names of the 100,000 or more," Clinton wrote, apparently seeking names of people who had given $100,000 or more to the Democrats.
Clinton went on: "Ready to start overnights right away -- give me the top 10 list back, along with the 100."
In the spreading controversy over Democratic campaign fund-raising, the White House documents fueled the criticism that Clinton used overnight stays in the Lincoln Bedroom to reward big Democratic contributors.
The records showed a total of 938 individuals stayed over at the White House between 1993 and 1996. Of them, 821 spent the night in the Lincoln Bedroom. Only the names of daughter Chelsea's friends and some Arkansas relatives who stayed over were deleted.
Of the 938, 111 were listed by the White House as "friends and supporters." Another 370 were listed as Arkansas friends, 155 as friends from outside Arkansas and 67 were from the arts and entertainment sectors. Another 128 were public officials and dignitaries.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz) said he was disappointed in what the president did.
"It does corroborate what we already suspected and what circumstantially was already known to us, and that is, that the president of the United States, in seeking to raise money for his re-election, was willing to use the Lincoln Bedroom, probably one of the more sacrosanct places in America, in order to gain those financial funds which he felt were necessary," McCain said. "And I'm deeply disappointed and I'm sure the American people will be too."
Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott responded to the news by joining others who have called for appointment of an independent prosecutor to investigate fund-raising practices.(288K WAV sound)
"That is certainly a very bad practice," said Lott (R-Miss.). "At best, it's bad judgment, and depending on the circumstances, could be more than that."
Asked whether an independent counsel should be appointed, Lott said, "Absolutely."
"Under the law as it now exists, clearly an independent counsel is justified and merited at this time," Lott said.
Meanwhile, despite the criticism, Clinton continues to attend Democratic fund-raisers. On Monday night, he attended a dinner for the Democratic Business Council that grossed about $500,000 for the Democratic National Committee.
Party officials said 65 percent of the contributions represented "soft money," given to help build the party, not help a particular candidate.
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