`This Sure Beats the Excelsior': Gore Tape Hints White House Fund-Raising

By Akers, Mary Ann | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), October 16, 1997 | Go to article overview

`This Sure Beats the Excelsior': Gore Tape Hints White House Fund-Raising


Akers, Mary Ann, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


Vice President Al Gore was captured on videotape greeting guests at a May 1993 Democratic Party function at the White House, joking with donors that the Executive Mansion was preferable to the Little Rock hotel where the event had originally been scheduled.

On a tape released by the White House and screened yesterday by the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, Mr. Gore and Democratic National Committee finance chairman Terence McAuliffe welcomed the guests, saying how pleased they were to host everyone on the South Lawn.

"This sure beats the Little Rock Excelsior," Mr. McAuliffe said.

"It is kind of nice to have it at the White House," Mr. Gore added.

Guests paid a total of $4 million to attend the original event in Little Rock.

The tape was one of 66 released late Tuesday and yesterday, showing nearly 100 hours of 158 presidential fund-raising events. Among those figures shown with President Clinton are John Huang, Charles Yah Lin Trie and Pauline Kanchanalak - all connected to millions of dollars in questionable campaign contributions to the DNC, much of which was returned.

Senate investigators suggested that the function was a fund-raiser because attendees had given $10,000 each to attend the original event. But White House officials stressed that no money exchanged hands and that the gathering was merely a DNC reception.

Federal campaign-finance laws prohibit fund-raising activity on federal property. Investigations being conducted by both the Justice Department and congressional committees are trying to determine whether Mr. Clinton and Mr. Gore broke the law.

"It was most certainly not a fund-raiser," White House Special Counsel Lanny Davis said. "This was a thank-you reception for donors who had previously given contributions over seven months before this [White House] reception."

The release of the new tapes comes less than a week after 44 other videotaped presidential events were handed over to investigators. The first batch of tapes showed coffees held at the White House with Democratic donors, while the latest videos feature the president at dozens of other events, mostly outside the White House.

On one tape, Mr. Clinton is shown effusively thanking Mr. Huang, the former Democratic fund-raiser who is the main focus of both the federal and congressional investigations. Mr. Huang raised about half of the estimated $3 million in illegal foreign donations that the DNC has returned in the wake of the 1996 national election.

"I'd like to thank my longtime friend John Huang for being so effective," Mr. …

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