Trial of Gore friend for alleged campaign violations nears end
From CNN Producer Ted Barrett at U.S. District Court
June 30, 1999
Web posted at: 10:13 a.m. EDT (1413 GMT)
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, June 30) -- Lawyers for Franklin Haney, a close friend and supporter of Vice President Al Gore who is on trial for allegedly funneling thousands of dollars to the Clinton/Gore '96 campaign, rested their case Tuesday without calling any witnesses.
Haney, a wealthy Chattanooga, Tenn. developer, was indicted in November, 1998 on 42 counts of using family and friends as conduits to contribute $100,000 of his own money to Clinton/Gore in 1996 and the Senate campaigns of Tennessee Democrats Jim Sasser and Jim Cooper in 1994.
U.S. District Court Judge Richard W. Roberts denied a defense motion for summary judgment at the close of the government's case. He scheduled closing arguments for Wednesday morning.
The jury is expected to begin deliberations by Wednesday afternoon. Defense lawyers do not deny Haney gave gifts of money to family and friends who in turn made the campaign donations but they insist Haney acted in good faith and thought his actions were legal. They say he did not willfully and intentionally break the law.
Theodore Wells Jr., one of Haney's lawyers, told the jury last week that Haney was indicted because Attorney General Janet Reno had to prove she was committed to an investigation of Democratic fundraising abuses.
Haney was the subject of a congressional investigation in 1997 after it was reported he paid Peter Knight, the Clinton/Gore '96 campaign manager, and Sasser, who is the outgoing U.S. ambassador to China, $1 million each to handle a Washington real estate transaction.
Knight, who testified at the trial last week, said the campaign did not know Haney was making conduit contributions.
Democrats are watching this case very carefully. They are concerned a guilty verdict involving a close friend of Gore's could be embarassing as the 2000 presidential election heats up.
Haney, one of 18 Democratic donors charged by the Justice Department's Campaign Finance Task Force, is the first person to stand trial. Eleven of the defendants have pled guilty and six cases remain unresolved, according to the Justice Department.
Wednesday, June 30, 1999