Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Fund-Raising Revelations Raise Eyebrows, Questions

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Fund-Raising Revelations Raise Eyebrows, Questions

Article excerpt

ED THOMPSON has some advice for fellow politicians like Kit Bond and Dick Gephardt, who'll be spending a good chunk of the next months raising money for their campaigns:

"Be mindful of where your money's coming from."

Not that Bond or Gephardt needs a lesson from the freshman senator from Tennessee, especially a tip that's so obvious. But Thompson's hearings on the fund-raising for last year's races have shown that some political operatives don't tend to worry too much about the source of the fuel for their campaigns.

Last week's hearings provided an interesting look at one Democratic bagman, Charlie Trie, who's now laying low in China. Trie was a Little Rock restaurateur who became friendly with President Bill Clinton while Clinton was the governor of Arkansas. Last year, he collected and delivered a lot of money to the Democratic National Committee, much of it apparently illegal because it came from foreign sources or because it was given by one person in the name of another.

Some of the most telling testimony was from Michael H. Cordoza, a lawyer who handles Clinton's presidential legal-defense trust. That's a private fund, not bound by campaign laws, that was set up to help Clinton with his legal bills. Trie wanted to give that fund money, too.

When Trie dumped $469,000 in checks and money orders on a table in front of him, Cordoza ordered an investigation and eventually returned the money.

When Trie lavished similar sums on the Democratic National Committee, its only question seemed to be: How about some more?

An odd sidelight arose last week, one that aptly illustrates why the complex nature of the investigation may turn off some O.J.-spoiled viewers but intrigue others.

It came up during the questioning of Terry Lenzner, an investigator Cordoza hired to look into the contributions that Trie delivered. Lenzner didn't interview Trie but found enough suspicious stuff about many of the money orders to prompt the trust to return all of the money. …

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