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The Democratic Fund-Raising Flap
Jan. 15, 1997 -- Vice President Gore's office acknowledges that he was aware the Buddhist temple event on April 29, 1996, was "finance-related." That contrasted with an earlier statement in which he said he thought the event was "community outreach." On Jan. 24 Gore acknowledges his "mistake" and says, "I knew it was a political event and I knew there were finance people who were going to be present."
Jan. 16, 1997 -- The Boston Globe reports that the president had withdrawn his support for an immigration reform bill in March 1996 that ended automatic entry for the siblings of naturalized citizens. His move came one month after receiving a memo from John Huang stating the top Asia-Pacific American priority was to keep sibling preference in place. In February 1996, Huang had organized an Asian fund-raiser that raised $1.1 million. The White House denied any connection.
Jan. 23, 1997 -- The New York Times reports that Maria Haley, a longtime associate of Bill Clinton who works at the Export-Import Bank, lobbied for a $6.5 million financing deal on behalf of Thai businesswoman Pauline Kanchanalak, whose family last year donated more than $200,000 to the DNC. The deal, intended to finance a Bangkok video store franchise, ultimately didn't go through, and most of the $200,000 in contributions was returned because its origins were unclear. John Huang, a longtime associate of Haley, raised part of the $200,000.
Jan. 24, 1997 -- Documents show that at least 100 coffees arranged by the DNC were held at the White House, some of which were attended by Clinton and Gore. Of particular interest is one held last May with more than a dozen executives of the nation's biggest banks, and attended by the president, Secretary of the Treasury Robert Rubin, and Comptroller of the Currency Eugene Ludwig, the nation's top financial regulator. Former DNC chairman Don Fowler acknowledges Feb. 10 that the DNC routinely solicited attendees of White House coffees for funds, and that they collectively donated $27 million.
Jan. 28, 1997 -- In his first post-inaugural press conference, President Clinton acknowledges that "mistakes were made" but he "categorically" denied any policies were impacted by fund-raising. (Full Transcript.)
Jan. 29, 1997 -- Sen. Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.) reveals plans to hire a staff of 80 persons to investigate campaign fund-raising on a budget of $6.5 million. (By contrast, the Watergate committee had a staff of 90; according to Thompson, the Watergate probe would have cost about $7 million in today's dollars.) On Jan. 28, Thompson, in a speech on the Senate floor, outlines the scope of his investigation, promising to be thorough and to allow consideration of Republican abuses.
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