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Gavel To Gavel

Gavel To Gavel: Fund-Raising Hearings

The People

Congress' hearings on campaign finance could focus even more attention on the people involved, from well-heeled donors to executives of far-flung business empires to lawmakers themselves. Here are some of the players in the saga:

Individuals: A - G | H - R | S - Z
Senate Governmental Affairs Committee
House Government Reform and Oversight Committee

Haley Barbour Former chairman of the Republican National Committee, Barbour led the GOP charge in mid-October 1996 that the DNC was attempting to cover up wrongdoing by refusing to release a pre-election spending report with the Federal Election Commission (which the DNC eventually did). Since then, however, he's had to play defense as allegations surfaced a think tank Barbour heads may have funneled overseas funds to GOP campaigns.

Baron

Alan Baron -- Baron is minority chief counsel for the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee's investigation.


Ron Brown The late Commerce Secretary was sued by Judicial Watch two years ago, over allegations Brown used overseas trade missions as a way to raise campaign funds for the Democrats from U.S. companies. Since last fall's disclosures of aggressive Democratic fund-raising by ex-Commerce Department staff member John Huang, the lawsuit has assumed greater importance. And Sen. Fred Thompson's (R-Tenn.) committee investigating fund-raising abuses has subpoenaed Brown's phone logs.


Dan Burton -- Burton, chairman of the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee, is the feisty Indiana Republican who took over from former Rep. William Clinger (R-Penn.) as the principal House watchdog. A vocal and persistent White House critic, Burton himself is being investigated by the FBI after Mark Siegal, a lobbyist for Pakistan and longtime Democratic activist, accused him of shaking him down for campaign donations. Burton was further set back when his chief counsel resigned.


Johnny Chung -- After donating $366,000 to the DNC, Chung was named a party "managing trustee." Documents show he visited the White House 49 times and pressured Clinton for a letter of introduction for a trip to Beijing on behalf of imprisoned Chinese-American human rights activist Harry Wu. National Security Council officials described Chung as a "hustler" whose activities were "very troubling" for U.S. diplomacy.


Bill Clinton When reports surfaced in February 1997 that foreign donations may have been coordinated from the Chinese Embassy, Clinton called for a "vigorous" and "thorough" investigation. Provoking a spat with the FBI, the president complained he should have been briefed about possible Chinese funding schemes. Regarding the torrent of revelation concerning Democratic fund-raising practices, Clinton conceded during a Jan. 28 news conference that "mistakes were made", though he carefully skirted any personal culpability. Soon, however, the White House admitted the president had himself erred, having approved a White House coffee guest list that included DNC officials, Comptroller of the Currency Eugene Ludwig, and several banking executives. As the most powerful Democrat in the country and the de facto leader of the party, Clinton's numerous meetings with former DNC fund-raiser John Huang, his ties to the Riady family, and the maze of Southeast Asian businesses anchored in Little Rock, Ark., are being scrutinized. Most damaging, if true, would be the finding that Clinton allowed U.S. foreign policy to be affected by Riady or other non-U.S. contributors. Clinton has vehemently denied the suggestion.


Lanny Davis -- Davis, an attorney, took over from Mark Fabiani as the White House's point man on questions concerning Democratic fund-raising, Whitewater and Travelgate.


Ching Hai -- Spiritual leader of a Taiwan-based Buddhist sect, Ching Hai urged her followers to contribute to President Clinton's Whitewater legal defense fund after meeting with Clinton associate Charles Yah Lin Trie, who is a follower of Ching Hai. Of some $600,000 in donations from Ching Hai's followers, most were returned because they did not meet the fund's guidelines.


Christopher Dodd Former co-chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Dodd defended the DNC from former Republican National Committee chairman Haley Barbour's charges of corruption. Dodd's successor is Colorado Gov. Roy Romer.


Don Fowler Former co-chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Fowler appeared before reporters on Nov. 11, 1996 to defend the DNC's fund-raising practices. "Never has there been any desire, plan or intent to evade requirements of applicable laws and regulations," Fowler said. He said the DNC's "mistakes" were the result of the high volume of donations received during the election year. In February, he conceded that guests at White House coffees were routinely solicited for funds, raising some $27 million for the DNC. Fowler's successor is Colorado Gov. Roy Romer.

Ghandi

Yogesh Gandhi -- Gandhi, an Orinda, Calif. businessman and a distant relative of the late Indian leader, gave the Democatic National Committee $325,000, but the party returned it after Gandhi would not suppl