Senate Investigators Focus On Favors
Thompson's committee issues another 30 subpoenas
By Brooks Jackson/CNN
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Aug. 6) -- From nursing home owners to banana company barons, the Senate panel investigating campaign finance abuses is issuing new subpoenas to some prominent business executives.
Many are major donors to the Democratic Party, and the committee wants to know if their donations got them any special deals from the Clinton Administration.
We already know that big donors got special access, from coffee get-togethers to White House sleep-overs in the Lincoln Bedroom.
One target of the committee is Carl Lindner. He once was a big Republican donor and friend of President George Bush, then switched when Bill Clinton won, giving big to Democrats.
Lindner's money is in Chiquita brand bananas. Last year Clinton trade officials took up Lindner's case in the World Trade Organization, pushing Europe to buy more Chiquita bananas, and fewer from their own former colonies.
Was that a coincidence or something else? Senate investigators are issuing subpoenas to Lindner and Chiquita, hoping to find out.
In all, more than 30 new subpoenas are being issued. Another name on the list is Peter Knight, the Clinton-Gore campaign manager and fund-raiser.
At one function, Clinton said of Knight's fund-raising prowess: "Any man who can pick your pocket and still win your applause deserves to be the campaign manager of the Clinton-Gore campaign."
An Oklahoma Indian tribe says Democrats pressured it to hire Knight as its lobbyist and to give $107,000 to the Democratic National Committee to get back native land.
Also subpoenaed is Vance Opperman. He got Clinton antitrust officials to clear the $3.4 billion sale of his legal publishing empire, a sale that infuriated smaller rivals.
"I think they got everything they wanted," said Eleanor Lewis, executive director of the American Association of Legal Publishers. "They did fantastically ... They're in the catbird seat."
Opperman won while shipping hundreds of thousands of dollars to Democrats, donations monitored by then-Deputy White House Chief of Staff Harold Ickes.
Another being subpoenaed is Alan Solomont, the DNC's current finance chairman. He's a nursing-home millionaire who last year lobbied the Clinton Administration for less stringent enforcement of federal nursing-home standards.
The president says donors did get a respectful hearing, but that's all. "Nobody buys a guaranteed result, nor should they ever," Clinton said in January.
Guaranteed or not, Senate probers want to know more. One of the new subpoenas is for Washington's Palm restaurant. Investigators want to know who presidential friend Charlie Trie met there for lunch on the day he delivered 460,000 very suspicious dollars to the president's legal expense trust. Its offices are next door.
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