Clinton Legal-Defense Fund Seeks $3.9 Million More
Archibald, George, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
President Clinton's legal fund has raised $8 million to pay the bills for his defense in the Whitewater, "Travelgate," "Filegate," campaign-finance, and Paula Jones and Monica Lewinsky scandals, trustees reported yesterday.
But the fund still needs to raise another $3.9 million to pay all the first family's current legal expenses associated with the scandals that have dogged the Clinton administration, they said.
"There should be an opportunity for the public to enable any first family to leave office without this tremendous burden," the fund's executive director, Anthony F. Essaye, said of private efforts to pay more than $11 million in legal expenses incurred so far by the president and first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton since the Whitewater probe began in January 1994.
Mr. Essaye said the next five months before Mr. Clinton leaves office "will be a ripe time to continue our [fund-raising] efforts" and give Democratic loyalists an opportunity to give him "a concrete expression of thanks" for his two terms as president.
The fund, which replaced a previous defense fund in February 1998, has raised $1.1 million since January, Mr. Essaye said.
Over the entire period, about 75,000 individuals have given contributions averaging less than $77, he said.
Christopher Healy, the fund's administrator, told reporters yesterday that 136 donors had given the maximum allowable contribution of $10,000 per year. But trustees acknowledged that contributors are solicited repeatedly and that many wealthy supporters have given $30,000 or more.
According to FEC Info, an Internet Web site (www.tray.com) that tracks federal political contributions, 176 individual donors actually contributed $10,000 or more to the Clinton defense fund through December 1999. Another 21 donors gave $10,000 in the first six months of this year, according to data released yesterday.
They included Yuen-Fung Chu and Chiao Jen Wang of Arlington, owners of International Corp. of America, who have given a total of $60,000; socialite Smith Bagley of Washington, who has donated $30,000; and Baltimore Orioles owner Peter G. …