From: Brooks Jackson/CNN
Subject: Democrats plan to call Haley Barbour on Thursday
Former Republican party chairman Haley Barbour is now expected to testify on Thursday before the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee's hearings into campaign money.
Committee sources said Democrats plan to focus almost entirely during three days of testimony on Barbour's financing of a nonprofit group, the National Policy Forum.
When hearings resume tomorrow (Wednesday) the first two witnesses are expected to be Mike Baroody, a former president of the National Policy Forum, and Benton Becker, a Florida lawyer representing Hong Kong businessman Ambrous Tung Young.
Baroody is expected to testify that he resigned as president of the policy forum because of what he has called Barbour's "fascination" with raising money for the group from overseas.
Becker is expected to give details of how Barbour solicited a $2.1 million loan for the policy forum just before the 1994 elections, allowing the forum to pay back, at a critical moment, $1.6 million it owed to the Repubican National Committee.
Besides Barbour, Republican fund-raiser Frederick W. Volkansek is expected to testify on Thursday. He helped broker the $2.1 million loan and, a committee source said, will testify that he asked Barbour for a commission in return for arranging it.
On Friday, Democrats hope to call Richard Richards, lobbyist for Young and also a former chairman of the RNC under Ronald Reagan. Richards claimed in a letter he wrote last year that the $2.1 million loan was intended to help the RNC capture targeted congressional seats.
Barbour's testimony will be his first full-blown public defense of the so-called "Hong Kong" connection. He has been declining most interviews since the story first broke several weeks ago. He has said through printed statements that the loan was legal, even though it came from overseas, because the policy forum was legally separate from the RNC, which could not legally accept such a loan directly.
The committee sources said Democrats hope to show that Barbour and Richards are telling conflicting stories about the purpose of the loan. "We'll have two former party chairmen accusing each other of lying," one committee source predicted.
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