From: John King
Subject: Reagan Also Made Fund-Raising Calls From White House
Documents obtained by CNN show that President Ronald Reagan made fund-raising calls from the White House and Camp David during his eight years in office.
The calls were similar to those by Vice President Al Gore now being touted by Republicans in their calls for an independent counsel.
Throughout this new controversy, Republicans have insisted their presidents never made fund-raising calls from government property. In March, Reagan political director Ed Rollins issued an unequivocal denial on CNN's Inside Politics, saying, "I absolutely know and will bet any amount of money that a call was never made by the president or the vice president to raise money."
But documents on file at the Reagan presidential library show Rollins himself recommended at least one of the calls, to help a Michigan Senate candidate in 1982.
Others show that Reagan calls to GOP congressional fund-raising events were made "at the request of congressman Newt Gingrich as an 'experiment.'" Gingrich is now speaker of the House and is among the fiercest critics of Clinton White House practices.
Another critic of Gore's fund-raising calls is former GOP chairman Haley Barbour. He said on CNN's Crossfire in March, "It is flatly illegal. The statute is very plain."
But the documents show Barbour was among a handful of Reagan political aides who urged the president to deliver telephone pep talks to GOP fund-raising events.
The vice president says White House lawyers gave him the thumbs-up to make his calls, as long as the Democratic Party paid the phone bill.
The Reagan documents show his attorneys took the same approach, clearing fund-raising calls from government property as long as they were "billed to the appropriate Republican Party account."
Reagan's calls were to large events, not to individual contributors, and his scripted remarks did not include direct solicitations for money, a distinction from Gore's urgent requests to Democratic contributors for help.
But Reagan did urge financial support for the GOP and in some cases for specific candidates.
And those on the receiving end were clearly grateful. After a 1983 Tennessee fund-raiser, then-Gov. Lamar Alexander wrote Reagan to tell him his call "saved the day."
Former RNC Chairman Frank Fahrenkopf said in a statement Wednesday, "If it happened it happened. I have no recollection of the president ever having been asked to call someone and ask for money."
Reagan's office in California declined immediate comment. But the documents are certain to be cited by Democrats in defending Gore from fierce Republican criticism.
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