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Burton Says Agreement With White House Possible

Possible accommodation could come today or Wednesday, he says


WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, May 19) -- Rep. Dan Burton, chair of the House committee looking at Democratic fund-raising excesses, says there could be an accommodation with the White House today or Tuesday over access to contested documents. A compromise would avoid a contempt citation.

"We think we've reached somewhat of an accommodation," the Indiana Republican said on "Fox News Sunday." "I'm hoping that we'll have this resolved Monday or Tuesday and we won't have to go through with the contempt citation."


But Burton's probe, and expected congressional hearings this summer, are likely to make it more difficult for the Democratic National Committee to dig itself out of its deep debt in time to prepare for the '98 midterm elections.

The Government Reform and Oversight Committee, which Burton chairs, is seeking White House documents on three figures in the probe: fund-raiser John Huang, Indonesian businessman James Riady and longtime Clinton friend Webster Hubbell.

The White House maintains, however, that some of the documents the committee wants are protected by attorney-client privilege. White House officials also want assurances that confidential material will not leak out.

Burton said the possible accommodation followed seven hours of talks last week with White House Counsel Charles Ruff. "It appears as though the threat of a contempt citation has shaken loose some documents that otherwise might not have been given to us," the congressman said. "We're still in negotiation over the claim of privilege on some documents. There's a possibility that we'll reach an accommodation, where they'll allow us to see those documents even though privilege has been claimed."

Meanwhile, Democratic Party leaders have acknowledged the party's financial woes are worse than anticipated, with donors reluctant to contribute in the face of the continuing investigations.

Because of that, officials have told The Washington Post, they are working on a new schedule for repaying an estimated $14.4 million debt, and hope to retire it by the end of 1998, a year later than they had wanted.


That could make it difficult for the party to wage an aggressive campaign in 1998's congressional elections, but party chairman Steve Grossman said it has not slowed the planning for next year.

"We want to make sure we are able to provide the kind of technical services to candidates and state parties and fully execute [a] bold political plan, and we want to do that at the same time we make regular, substantive payments [on the debt]," Grossman told the Post.

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