Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Campaign-Finance Questions Distract Gore ; New Revelations Revive Issue of Integrity in a Campaign That May Turn on Character

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Campaign-Finance Questions Distract Gore ; New Revelations Revive Issue of Integrity in a Campaign That May Turn on Character

Article excerpt

Since 1996, allegations of questionable fundraising have dogged Al Gore. Now they've surfaced once again, weighing down his campaign just as he is trying to revive it.

Whether these renewed charges will harm Mr. Gore's presidential bid will depend in part on the closeness of the race this fall, and more important, if Attorney General Janet Reno appoints a special counsel to investigate him - as a Justice Department prosecutor recently urged.

Still, most analysts agree that the prosecutor's recommendation is one more distraction for the vice president, and once again raises questions about his integrity in a campaign in which character is key.

It comes at a time when most polls show Gore trailing Republican rival George W. Bush. And it comes on the heels of several bad breaks for the vice president, including skyrocketing oil prices, a serious nuclear security lapse, and the resignation of his campaign director.

"This is bad for the vice president," says Stuart Rothenberg, an independent political analyst here. "Anytime this is in the headlines, it elbows out other stories."

Indeed, the question of Gore's truthfulness was bandied about on television talk shows Sunday, and may continue to grab headlines when Ms. Reno testifies on Capitol Hill tomorrow. Senators will ask her why she has not appointed a special prosecutor to investigate the vice president, even though Robert Conrad, director of the task force investigating 1996 campaign-finance abuse, urged her recently to do so. This, after previous task force director Charles LaBella recommended the same thing in 1998, as well as FBI director Louis Freeh, in 1997.

Truthfulness an issue

Word of Mr. Conrad's recommendation leaked late last week, as did his concerns about Gore's truthfulness in an interview regarding the now infamous 1996 fundraiser at the Hsi Lai Temple in California. At this event, money was illegally given by "straw donors" who were later reimbursed. Some were foreigners who were ineligible to give.

Gore has always maintained that he did not know the event was a fundraiser, and he blamed partisan politics for this latest round of accusations (the news of Conrad's recommendation was first reported by Sen. Arlen Specter (R) of Pennsylvania).

On Friday, the vice president released a transcript of his entire interview with Conrad, in which he attempts to justify how, on previous occasions, he referred to the Hsi Lai fundraiser as both a "community outreach" event and "finance related."

"If you are reaching out to a community that wants to be more involved in the political process, and one of the results of that outreach is going to be that they are going to be more likely to 'make contributions at a later time,' then it is both community outreach and finance related, and that's what I thought this event was," he said. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.