Gore Aide To Testify About Fund-Raising Event
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Sep. 4) -- Keeping the focus on Vice President Al Gore, senators investigating campaign fund-raising are grilling Gore's former deputy chief of staff about a controversial fund-raiser at a Buddhist temple.
The former aide, David M. Strauss, is reiterating his earlier sworn testimony that when Gore asked him about the April 29, 1996, event, which raised some $100,000 in donations to the Democratic National Committee, he told the vice president it was a "community outreach" event.
It is a violation of campaign law to hold political fund-raisers at religious sites. Strauss told investigators that in briefing papers prepared before the event, which was arranged by former DNC fund-raiser John Huang, "there is no reference here to any money being raised at this particular event."
After a month recess, the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, chaired by Tennessee Republican Fred Thompson, resumed hearings yesterday, questioning three nuns who were present at the event, held at the Hsi Lai temple in suburban Los Angeles.
Today, Republicans are expected to point to photos of Gore and Huang at the event, and press Strauss on when Gore learned the appearance was a fund-raiser.
The vice president has steadfastly maintained he was never informed it was a fund-raiser, though his account has shifted. At first he said he thought the event was strictly "community outreach"; later, he said he knew that the event was "finance-related." Calling it a "mistake," he said, "I knew it was a political event and I knew there were finance people who were going to be present."
Strauss told investigators that even after the true nature of the event became public last October, the vice president never asked him if it was a fund-raiser.
"He didn't say anything about the allegations that it was a fund-raiser?" a committee lawyer asked.
"No," Strauss replied.
And Strauss said he has "no independent recollection" about a string of documents prepared before the April 1996 event that describe it as a fund-raiser, including a phone memo with his annotations that read "John Huang," and "Lead to a lot of $," written two days before Gore met with the Hsi Lai master March 13, 1996, in Washington.
Also scheduled to appear before the Thompson committee today are Michael Mitoma, former mayor of Carson, Calif., and Rawlein Soberano, of the Asian-American Business Roundtable.
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