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White House Releases Documents On Gore Fund-raiser

Documents show Gore raised 'hard money' from the White House

WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Sep. 3) -- Vice President Al Gore's office released a stack of documents Tuesday purporting to show he was unaware that an April 1996 event at a Buddhist temple was a fund-raiser.

The move came two days before the Senate committee investigating campaign fund-raising resumes its hearings, with a focus on Gore and the now-infamous fund-raiser at the Hsi Lai temple in suburban Los Angeles on April 29, 1996.

That event, organized by former Democratic fund-raiser John Huang, the elusive figure at the center of the controversy, raised about $140,000. Election law forbids fund-raisers at religious sites, and the vice president has maintained he was never informed that the temple event was more than what he termed "community outreach."

One of the documents, though, is a memo from Gore to his scheduler Kimberly Tilley which refers to two "fundraisers" scheduled for that day. In a March 15 e-mail where Gore discussed a New York invitation, the vice president told Tilley "If we have already booked the fundraisers, then we have to decline."

Though White House officials say Gore was referring to events that were later dropped from the schedule, the Senate committee, led by Tennessee Republican Fred Thompson, is expected to query Tilley or Gore's deputy chief of staff, David Strauss, about the discrepancies this week.

Poor communication?

If Gore didn't know the true nature of the event, the released materials -- which include memos, electronic messages and briefing papers -- suggest his close staff members were well aware.

An April 11 memo from Huang to Tilley describes the Hsi Lai temple event as a "Fundraising lunch for Vice President Gore." An April 24 e-mail from White House staffer John B. Emerson describes a "DNC funder for lunch."

Two documents from Harold Ickes, former White House deputy chief of staff, list Gore as attending a Los Angeles fund-raiser. One has the target amount as $250,000, the other $325,000. Gore's aides have previously said the vice president never saw those memos.

In releasing the documents, Gore's aides appear to be taking the offensive on what probably has been the vice president's greatest political embarrassment.

Gore raised hard money from his office

But the vice president's embarrassments may get worse before they get better, following revelations that at least $120,000 of $695,000 Gore raised over the phone from his White House office went into so-called "hard money" accounts at the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

White House officials insist Gore didn't know it was standard operating procedure for the DNC to use some of the so-called "soft money" he was raising from his controversial calls last year as hard money. Soft money is the unregulated and unrestricted sums that are used for general party building purposes, while hard money is federally restricted and can be used to help individual candidates.