New Documents Show Chung Lobbied Administration For Chinese Oil Firm
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, July 2) -- Controversial Democratic fund-raiser Johnny Chung lobbied Clinton Administration officials in an attempt to get U.S. assistance for China's state-owned oil company, according to new documents obtained by CNN.
The documents came from the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee, chaired by Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.), which is investigating questionable fund-raising activities during the 1996 campaign.
Chung, an Arkansas friend of President Bill Clinton from his days as governor there, pleaded guilty in March to making illegal contributions to the Clinton-Gore campaign. He has been cooperating with investigators.
While much of the information released Wednesday by Burton's committee has been previously reported, one new item is a transcript of deposition testimony given by Todd Schneider, an economist at the Treasury Department.
Schneider testified that on Oct. 23, 1995, Deputy Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers had a meeting with Chung and Huaren Sheng, president of China Petro-Chemical Corp. Sheng requested a low-interest loan from the Treasury Department to finance energy development projects.
"Summers' response was that the Treasury Department did not make loans of this kind, that we had no funds for this purpose and it wasn't the function of the Treasury Department ... to make these kinds of loans," said Schneider, who said Chung and Sheng went away empty-handed.
It has been previously reported that Chung was seeking meetings with former Energy Secretary Hazel O'Leary and other administration officials on behalf of China Petro-Chemical, which is also known as SINOPEC.
Another document reveals that Chung tried to meet with the U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia in order to promote an oil deal between the Chinese and the Saudis.
"They have asked me to assist them in importing 40 percent of crude oil supply from Saudi Arabia to China in the next 10 years," Chung wrote, in slightly broken English, in a memo dated Feb. 7, 1996. What, if anything, came out of Chung's efforts is not made clear by the documents released by Burton's committee.
While the documents provide new details of Chung's activities during the time he was raising money for the Clinton-Gore campaign and the Democratic National Committee, one of the committee's Republican investigators told CNN it would be "a little tenuous" to suggest that the information establishes that there was any quid pro quo between those contributions and policy decisions by the Clinton Administration.
CNN's Brooks Jackson contributed to this report.