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Gavel To Gavel: Fund-Raising Hearings

Chung Says White House Staffer Asked For Funds

'Put in the coins to open the gates,' Chung says; White House denies any solicitation

LOS ANGELES (AllPolitics, July 28) -- California businessman Johnny Chung says a White House staffer solicited money from him in return for VIP treatment. The day after Chung met with the aide he handed a check for $50,000 over to Maggie Williams, Hillary Clinton's then-chief of staff.

"I see the White House is like a subway you have to put in coins to open the gates," Chung told the Los Angeles Times.

Chung claims that White House aide Evan Ryan met with him in the first lady's office about the possibility of special treatment for Chinese businessmen that Chung was meeting with. Ryan left the office for 20 minutes and upon return said to Chung, "Maybe you can help us." Ryan went on to tell Chung that Mrs. Clinton had "some debts with the DNC [Democratic National Committee]" that she needed to pay off.

"Then a light bulb goes on in my mind. I start to understand," Chung told the newspaper. "I said I will help for $50,000."

On March 9, 1995, the day that Chung made his donation, Chung and six other businessmen that he was entertaining in Washington had their picture taken with Mrs. Clinton and they had lunch at the White House.

Two days later, Chung and the businessmen were photographed with Clinton and then allowed to sit and watch Clinton tape his weekly radio address.

The White House has denied Chung's allegations. Spokeswoman Ann Lewis has stated that Ryan does not recall "any discussion of the financial needs of the Democratic Party" with Chung. She also said that, "At no time did (the aides) solicit a contribution from Mr. Chung."

The possibility that White House staffers were seeking money raises legal questions. Law states that federal employees are prohibited from soliciting or accepting political contributions on government property.

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