Gavel To Gavel

Gavel To Gavel: Fund-Raising Hearings

Fowler Due To Testify Tuesday

Republicans want to grill the highest-ranking Democrat to testify yet

By Brooks Jackson/CNN

WASHINGTON (Sep. 8) -- When the Senate campaign finance hearings resume Tuesday, Republicans are ready to grill Don Fowler, the most prominent Democrat to testify yet.

Fowler, the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), presided over probably the biggest fund-raising scandal in his party's history.

Now Fowler is the target, and Senate Republicans can hardly wait to rip into him.

A year ago, at the Democrats' Chicago convention, Fowler was a party hero, on the way to raising $210 million, more than double the DNC's previous record.

But by November Fowler was a party goat, in the process of giving back $2.8 million in questionable or downright illegal money.

"Our difficulties -- mistakes if you will -- resulted from a very large volume of donations," Fowler said in November 1996.

Fowler approved the hiring of fund-raiser John Huang, who raised most of the suspect money. Fowler was often there -- at that Buddhist temple event, at White House coffees -- but he asked few questions about those who gave the money.

But he was most attentive to donors' needs. One case in point was Lebanese businessman Roger Tamraz. Tamraz had been blackballed by Clinton national security aides, who wanted to keep him away from the president.

But Fowler intervened, calling the White House and perhaps even the CIA; that's still under investigation. And Tamraz got to see the president, several times.

When donor Johnny Chung wanted to meet then-Energy Secretary Hazel O'Leary, Fowler sent her a letter and Chung got his meeting.

Fowler also asked then-U.S. Trade Representative Mickey Kantor to give one DNC donor a seat on an official trade mission to Bosnia. Kantor refused.

Republicans intend to grill Fowler about the directions he received from higher up, hoping to place blame inside the White House. But they probably won't get far.

"There was no pressure to cut corners or to do things that were improper to raise money," Fowler has said. "Absolutely not, period. Zero. Nothing."

One note of irony is that in 1995 Fowler privately recommended that the DNC voluntarily adhere to strict limits, taking no more than $2,000 per donor. He was overruled.

The Senate hearings are set to resume at 10 a.m. EDT.

In Other News:

Monday Sept. 8, 1997

Gore Doesn't Plan To Testify Before Senate Hearings
Fowler Due To Testify Tuesday
N.Y.'s Giuliani Riding High
The Push For Testing

E-mail From Washington:
Paula Jones' Attorneys Ready To Withdraw

Susan McDougal's Father: Starr 'Lower Than A Worm' ...

home | news | in-depth | analysis | what's new | community | contents | search

Click here for technical help or to send us feedback.

Copyright © 1997 AllPolitics All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this information is provided to you.