Dems Target A Republican Donation
Democrats will try to turn the tables this week as Senate hearings continue
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, July 21) -- Democrats will try to go on the offensive when Senate campaign finance hearings resume this week, pressing Republican witnesses about what they consider a suspicious $50,000 donation to the National Policy Forum, a defunct GOP think tank.
A California company, Panda Enterprises, owned by Indonesian businessman Ted Sioeng, gave the money to the Republican group. The donation was obtained by Joseph Gaylord, one of House Speaker Newt Gingrich's political advisors.
"We certainly intend to pursue it [the donation]," a Democratic investigator for the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee told The Associated Press.
The Los Angeles Times has reported that in July 1995, Panda's bank account received a $50,000 wire transfer from an undetermined source, and the next day, Sioeng's daughter, Jessica Elnitiarta, wrote a check to the GOP group.
Today, Gingrich supported Gaylord. "To the best of my knowledge, and the best of Joe's knowledge, based on talks with his lawyers, he feels very comfortable and he has a solid case," Gingrich said. "The direct parallel is not the illegal fund-raising of the Clinton-Gore campaign and the Democratic National Committee."
Democrats may not be able to gain much political traction from the issue, since Sioeng and his daughter gave five times as much -- $250,000 -- to the Democratic National Committee. But it fits with the Democrats' "everybody-does-it" defense to Republican charges of fund-raising illegalities.
Sen. John Glenn, the ranking Democrat on the committee, made it clear when the Senate hearings began that the Democrats would target donations to the National Policy Forum.
The group was founded by former Republican National Committee chairman Haley Barbour, who contends that the organization acted independently and was permitted to accept overseas contributions. But Democrats contend the group acted in concert with the Republican Party and did not deserve its tax-exempt status.
The Times quoted one of Elnitiarta's attorneys, as saying she made no contributions at the direction of or on behalf of overseas governments.
Testimony in the Senate hearings begins at 10 a.m. Wednesday and will continue Thursday and Friday, a committee spokeswoman said.
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