Thai Firm Lobbyist Indicted as Conduit of Campaign Cash

Article excerpt

Pauline Kanchanalak, a lobbyist for a Thai property development company who gave the Democratic National Committee more than $330,000 in campaign contributions, was indicted yesterday on charges of funneling foreign donations to the DNC and several state Democratic Party organizations.

A 24-count indictment handed up in U.S. District Court in Washington charged Mrs. Kanchanalak and her sister-in-law, Duangnet "Georgie" Kronenberg, a business partner, with conspiracy to impede the Federal Election Commission, lying in campaign documents they submitted to the FEC, and obstructing justice by removing corporate documents and erasing computer hard drives.

The indictments bring to 11 the number of persons charged so far in the Justice Department's campaign finance investigation, which began in November 1996.

Mrs. Kanchanalak, 47, and Mrs. Kronenberg, 41, are accused of using funds from foreign companies and individuals to make illegal campaign donations of at least $679,000 through "straw donors" to the DNC, other groups and individual Democratic candidates.

The donations, according to the indictment, gave Mrs. Kanchanalak and Mrs. Kronenberg access to President Clinton and members of his administration at a time they were seeking to impress business clients. Records show she attended a White House coffee with Mr. Clinton on the same day she donated $85,000 to the DNC, one of 26 visits to the White House she made.

Justice Department officials said Mrs. Kanchanalak is believed to have fled to Thailand; she is now considered a fugitive. Prosecutors yesterday obtained a bench warrant for her arrest from Magistrate Deborah Robinson. Mrs. Kronenberg lives in McLean.

The indictment said campaign cash was diverted through bank accounts held by Mrs. Kronenberg and Praitun Kanchanalak - Mrs. Kronenberg's mother and Mrs. Kanchanalak's mother-in-law. Those accounts were chosen, the indictment said, because both women hold green cards as permanent resident aliens and so are legally entitled under federal election laws to make donations to U.S. campaigns.

Foreigners are forbidden to give to U.S. campaigns. Mrs. Kanchanalak is a Thai citizen who worked for Ban Chan Group, a Thai property development company.

Praitun Kanchanalak and Jeb Kanchanalak, Mrs. …