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Gavel To Gavel: AllPolitics' Campaign Fund-Raising Special Report
Lots Of Inquiries Into Fund-Raising Mess
By Jeanne Meserve/CNN
WASHINGTON (Oct. 7) -- The campaign fund-raising frenzy has fueled such a flurry of investigations you need a scorecard to follow the action.
At the Justice Department, there is a review under way of President Bill Clinton and a formal investigation of Vice President Al Gore, into whether either man broke the law by making fund-raising calls from the White House. Those findings could result in the appointment of independent counsels.
Justice investigators are also looking into whether Democratic Party contributions were illegally diverted to the Clinton-Gore campaign.
The FBI is also taking a hard look at an alleged Chinese government plan to buy influence in U.S. elections.
Add to that a federal grand jury in Washington with a free hand to probe any and all allegations of illegal fund-raising in the 1996 elections.
In New York, federal prosecutors are exploring whether the relationship between Democrats and the Teamsters union was too cozy. In exchange for fund-raising help for Teamsters' chief Ron Carey, did union donations go to the Democratic National Committee?
There are also two congressional probes, focused primarily on the Democrats.
The Senate hearings began July 8 with dramatic charges, including illegal overseas contributions, illegal overseas involvement in the U.S. political process, money-laundering and influence peddling.
Investigators are also looking at money raised by former Democratic fund-raiser John Huang. Huang set up a controversial Buddhist temple event attended by Vice President Al Gore that ultimately brought in some illegal contributions.
But questions persist about whether Gore knew it was a fund-raiser.
Then there's the issue of whether the White House sold access and policy in exchange for contributions. During the Senate hearings, one senator asked oilman Roger Tamraz whether he got his money's worth for the $300,000 he gave the Democrats.
"I think next time I will give $600,000," Tamraz said.
Democrats have not been the only targets. Former Republican Party Chairman Haley Barbour was asked to explain why he sought financial help for his party from a Hong Kong tycoon.
Over in the House, the investigation is expected to spade the same ground, but the House hearings are seen as more partisan, more disorganized and less credible.
A long road ahead
For now, there are a lot of questions, a lot of inquiries and few answers. There is no public evidence the DNC and the Teamsters swapped money. But a former finance director of the Clinton-Gore campaign is talking with investigators.
The Washington grand jury hasn't come up with any major indictments yet and the Justice Department probes of both President Clinton and Gore are still developing.
Sen. Fred Thompson says it's too early to tell what the end of the road will be. But it's clear there is still a long road ahead.
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