In the past five months, the White House has been dogged by
questions about campaign fund-raising tactics.
The questions have focused on two related points: the activities
of Democratic National Committee fund-raiser John Huang and the
propriety of President Clinton conducting fund-raising
kaffeeklatsches in the White House.
Four separate investigations are underway: by the Justice
Department, the Federal Election Commission, the House, and the
Senate. Mr. Clinton has tried to temper the growing scandal, in
part by urging Congress to pass campaign finance reform.
'Asiagate' Opens a Flood of Questions
John Huang is at the center of the fund-raising scandal now
dubbed "Asiagate." Mr. Huang raised at least $3.4 million for the
DNC, focusing on the Asian-American community. The DNC returned
$1.3 million after news reports questioned whether the money was
raised illegally from sources overseas. The DNC suspended Huang on
Prior to becoming a Democratic fund-raiser, Huang worked as an
executive with the Lippo Group, a financial conglomerate with
investments throughout Asia and the US.
Investigators want to know whether in his zeal to raise money
for President Clinton and the Democratic Party, Huang broke
federal-election and other laws.
Among unanswered questions:
* Were illegal campaign contributions made by foreign
governments such as Taiwan and China, nations competing for
influence with the Clinton administration?
* Were contributions accepted from the Lippo Group or other
Asian businesses and then funneled through third parties to
disguise their origin?
Election laws ban contributions from any foreign sources. As a
result, if a fund-raiser was prone to accept illegal contributions,
he or she would have to launder the money to make it appear as if
it came from legitimate US-based donors.
At a fund-raiser held last April at a Buddhist temple in
California, a member of the temple was handed $5,000 by an
unidentified person who asked the member to donate it in her own
name to the DNC. Huang organized the event.
The vice president of the Asian American Business Roundtable in
Washington says Huang asked him to channel $250,000 to the DNC
disguised as contributions from the group's members. Huang has
denied making the request.
Investigators are also looking into reports that a Taiwan
official offered to donate $15 million to the DNC, and that the
Chinese embassy in Washington may have tried to channel illegal
campaign contributions to the Democrats.
In addition to these concerns, the role of Clinton friend
Charles Trie is also in question. …