Gavel To Gavel

Gavel To Gavel: Fund-Raising Hearings

Fowler: Ickes Ran Democratic Fund-Raising In '96

Former deputy chief of staff doesn't plan to be party fall guy, sources say

By Wolf Blitzer/CNN

WASHINGTON (Sep. 9) -- Former Democratic Party chairman Don Fowler told the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee today what many insiders already knew: that then-White House Deputy Chief of Staff Harold Ickes effectively ran the party's fund-raising operation last year.

Fowler says that undermined his own authority at the Democratic National Committee and may have caused many of the party's problems.

During today's testimony before the Senate campaign fund-raising hearings, Fowler described his working relations with Ickes as "a relationship of dynamic tension." (128K wav sound)

The irony is that Ickes and Fowler had been allies, and Ickes had pushed for Fowler's DNC appointment. "Mr. Ickes and I have been good friends for many years," Fowler testified.

But that relationship turned sour last year over tactics and strategy.

Former Clinton-Gore campaign Chairman Terry McAuliffe said, "When you have two strong personalities, there's going to be conflicts. But as Don said today, there were only a few occasions where they had real disagreements."

Their relationship remains sour today as both men turn their attention to their own legal problems.

Ickes has come under investigation over allegations that he illegally told a donor how to use tax-exempt money to help the Democrats.

White House officials say Ickes' model was James Baker, who effectively ran President George Bush's 1992 re-election campaign from the White House.

White House Press Secretary Mike McCurry said, "It has long been a practice at the White House in which the president, and incumbent presidents seeking re-election, for there to be a high degree of political activity by some of the president's aides." (160K wav sound)

Republicans say it was different then.

Republican National Committee consultant Ed Gillespie said, "What is not traditional, in this case, it's clear that the White House, specifically the deputy chief of staff, Harold Ickes, was virtually running the Democratic National Committee's fund-raising operations from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue."

Last year, Ickes was one of the most powerful figures in Washington. But immediately after the election, Clinton unceremoniously dumped him when he tapped Erskine Bowles to succeed Leon Panetta as his chief of staff.

A brass knuckles political infighter, Ickes bitterly left with thousands of documents, all of which he quickly made available to Senate investigators, to the deep embarrassment of his former colleagues and the president.

Given his legal problems, Ickes is not talking publicly for now. But sources close to him say he has no intention of becoming the fall guy fo the party's political headaches.

In Other News:

Tuesday Sept. 9, 1997

Fowler: No Memory Of CIA Contact
Fowler: Ickes Ran Democratic Fund-Raising In '96
Judge Lets Paula Jones' Attorneys Off The Case
Clinton Lays Out A Fall Agenda

E-mail From Washington:
GOP Downplays Fund-Raising Letters Sent To Tamraz
Senate Democrats Prep For Trade, Tobacco Deal
Helms Faces A Deadline On Weld Meeting By Today

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