Party Lines Determine Views On Campaign Finance Inquiry
By Candy Crowley/CNN
WASHINGTON (March 3) -- Republicans and Democrats will wrap up 32 days of campaign finance hearings with starkly different takes on what happened.
There's not much overlap between the final Republican and Democratic versions of what Republican Sen. Fred Thompson's committee learned about campaign fund-raising during the 1996 elections.
In the chapter on the China connection, Republicans write that "it is clear that illegal foreign contributions were made to the DNC [Democratic National Committee] ... were facilitated by individuals with extensive ties to the PRC [People's Republic of China]."
Democrats say the available information "... does not support the conclusion that the China plan was aimed at, or affected, the 1996 presidential election."
On former Republican National Committee [RNC] Chairman Haley Barbour and the National Policy forum he founded, Democrats say, "Barbour and the RNC intentionally solicited foreign money for the National Policy Forum (NPF)."
Republicans say Barbour's transaction "... did not involve an illegal or improper quid pro quo arrangement."
Democrats and Republican disagree about the day the vice president attended an event at a Buddhist temple too.
The Democrats say there is "... no evidence ... Gore knew that contributions were solicited or received..." in connection with the event.
The Republicans say Gore "was well aware ..." he was attending a fund-raiser.
Were all those hearings for naught? Campaign finance reformers don't think so. Ellen Miller of Public Campaign said, "I think the Thompson hearings became the vehicle for keeping the issue alive, for continuing to inform the people of this country that the system is basically rotten."
The issue may be alive, but chances of campaign reform are dead for this year. A reform bill was pulled from the Senate floor last week, amidst a legislative standoff.
The final gasp of the Senate investigation comes Thursday when the
panel meets to vote on a final report. The Republican version will prevail as
the official document. Bet on the vote coming in at 9-7, strictly along party lines.