Fund-Raiser's Many Visits to White House Draw Fire

Article excerpt

Democratic fund-raiser John Huang's frequent and long White House visits raise questions about what was discussed with whom and whether he honored the legal separation between campaign activities and governing, ethics and legal experts say.

Meanwhile, Attorney General Janet Reno said Thursday that the Justice Department had taken the first step toward deciding whether to seek a special prosecutor to investigate possible wrongdoing by Democratic fund-raisers.

Although it does not guarantee such an investigation, the action provided the first official suggestion that complaints of possible crimes were serious enough to warrant full legal evaluation. Secret Service logs show that Huang, at the center of a controversy over foreign-linked political donations, went to the White House at least 65 times this year, often for hours at a time. The newly disclosed records did not show what Huang's business was at the White House, but they indicate that he was a far more frequent visitor than President Bill Cl inton's administration had previously acknowledged. Rep. William Clinger, R-Pa., chairman of the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee, demanded Thursday that Clinton's administration surrender by noon today computer records identifying whom Huang went to see. Mike McCurry, the White House press secretary, said, "We have no indications that there was anything improper" about Huang's visits. He said that he did not have a full list of Huang's contacts at the White House, but that there was no reason to review each one. The logs show that Huang was admitted to the White House 21 times in February after he had quit a high-ranking Commerce Department job and joined the Democratic National Committee. Huang recently was stripped of his fund-raising duties by the committee, but he remains on the party payroll. …