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The Democratic Fund-Raising Flap
Perhaps the Democrats' most consistent defense of their fund-raising embarrassments has been the refrain, "Republicans are equally-guilty." Whether that's true remains to be seen, but it's clear that Republicans do have problems as well.
In April, California state treasurer Matt Fong returned $100,000 donated by Panda Estates, a company owned by Los Angeles businessman Ted Sioeng, who as emerged as a suspect of espionage in the FBI's probe of campaign finance.
In early May, GOP officials announced that $122,400 in improper donations would be returned to a Hong Kong company, and the Republican National Committee pledged to review all contributions of $5,000 or more received in the last 3 1/2 years to ensure that they are legal.
The RNC said the review is "to double-check the actual source of the funds." Democrats are calling the internal review "meaningless" and said it should be conducted by an independent group and should go back to 1991, when illegal donations were made.
The $122,400 was given illegally by a Hong Kong corporation, Young Brothers Development U.S.A., to the party through a U.S. subsidiary in 1991, 1992, 1993 and 1994. Young Brothers of Florida is 100 percent owned by a Hong Kong corporation that supplied all the money in question.
Florida Republicans said Friday they also will "probably" return another $25,000 contribution to Young Brothers which gave it to the state party in 1991.
Former RNC chairman Rich Richards, now president of Young Brothers of Florida, says the party should return an additional $500,000 to the company, Young Brothers Development. He was quoted in Friday's Boston Globe as saying, "I'd like to see them do it. I think they should."
That is money that Young Brothers paid to retire debts run up by another GOP chairman, Haley Barbour, at a nonprofit group called the National Policy Forum. But the RNC says the money did not go to the national party.
In response to revelations relating to Republican fund-raising, Sen. Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.), who chairs the Senate committee investigating fund-raising abuses, promised to widen his inquiry and issue more subpoenas. On the House side, Democrats are pressing for the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee to widen its probe, which currently has the Democratic Party as its sole focus.
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