Trie's Lawyer Asks Judge To Dismiss Fund-Raising Charges
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, July 2) -- A lawyer for Charlie Trie, a key figure in the investigation into 1996 Democratic campaign fund-raising irregularities, asked a federal judge Wednesday to throw out an indictment charging him with conspiracy to impede the Federal Election Commission.
Defense lawyer Reid Weingarten argued that Trie was improperly charged because the FEC doesn't regulate the type of "soft money" donations Trie raised. He also said Trie had no way of knowing that some of the money he raised could end up in campaign accounts that were regulated by the FEC.
"Charlie Trie had a restaurant in Little Rock. He was not a sophisticated politico," Weingarten said.
But Justice Department prosecutor G. Thomas MacNamara countered that Trie's attempts to hide the source of the donations -- some of which allegedly came illegally from sources outside the United States -- were evidence of the conspiracy.
U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman did not immediately rule on the motion to dismiss the indictment.
Trie, a friend of President Bill Clinton from his days as governor of Arkansas, and a business associate, Yuan Pei "Antonio" Pan, are charged with trying to obtain access to Clinton and others by funneling donations fo the Democratic National Committee through people they later reimbursed with cash.
Using such "straw donors" is illegal because federal law requires that political contributions be reported with the name of the actual donor.
Trie and Pan are also accused of funneling money from non-U.S. sources into federal political campaigns. Such contributions are also illegal.
The Democratic National Committee returned $662,000 that Trie either donated or raised. Clinton's legal defense fund also returned $640,000 that Trie had delivered, much of it in sequentially numbered money orders from members of a Buddhist sect.
MacNamara argued that Trie's use of straw donors caused the DNC to file reports with the FEC that turned out to be false. "This puts meat on the bones" of the conspiracy charges, he said.