Gavel To Gavel

Gavel To Gavel: Fund-Raising Hearings

Senate Panel Briefed On Possible China Connection

WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Sep. 12) -- U.S. investigators have credible evidence that a Los Angeles businessman made political contributions on behalf of China to influence U.S. elections.


Attorney General Janet Reno and the directors of the FBI, CIA and National Security Agency have briefed the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee on the federal government's investigation of Indonesian entrepreneur Ted Sioeng, according to The Washington Post.

Testimony in the closed session on Thursday afternoon focused on contributions related to Sioeng made during the last election cycle. His family and businesses donated a total of $250,000 to the Democratic National Committee in 1996 and $50,000 in 1995 to the National Policy Forum, a now-defunct GOP think tank.

Sioeng, a prosperous businessman with both U.S. and Asian holdings, has appeared in news reports as a possible "straw donor," a conduit used to funnel foreign funds into U.S. campaigns.


Though the exact nature of the evidence was not available, the Post reported that the intelligence gathered on Sioeng by FBI agents and the Justice Department was credible enough that top officials felt their progress should be detailed to the Senate committee investigating fund-raising violations.

Still, Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) complained that the committee should have been informed earlier. "The Governmental Affairs Committee was not told about information until long, long after federal investigators had it."

A separate briefing of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence was held Wednesday, while White House National Security Advisor Sandy Berger has been provided with the same information.

Sources who attended Thursday's meeting told the Post there was considerable debate among senators about how definitive the information was.

"The word 'agent' was used, but it was downplayed," the Post quoted one official as saying. "I'm not saying he didn't give money and he didn't have some Chinese connections, but that's still being looked at. It's being worked very hard."

Sen. John Glenn (D-Ohio), the ranking Democrat on the committee, said the he still hasn't changed his mind. "I've read every intelligence document. I've been in every intelligence briefing. And there's nothing yet that makes me change my mind that the 1996 presidential race was not affected by the Chinese plan."


Officials familiar with the intelligence given to the Senate panel said the investigation has turned up no evidence that Sioeng, his family or companies received any benefit from political parties or officials as a result of their donations.

There's been little mention of Sioeng in the Senate campaign finance hearings, possibly because money was also donated to help Republicans. For the record, Republicans have given their money back while Democrats are still hanging on to theirs.

Sioeng's spokesman denied that Sioeng or any member of his family acted as an agent for China. "I want to be as unequivocal as possible," attorney Mark MacDougall told the Post. "Neither Ted nor his family have ever been political agents for the Chinese government."

Senior Chinese officials have repeatedly denied any government plot to influence U.S. elections.

In Other News:

Friday Sept. 12, 1997

Helms Scolds His Colleagues On Weld Nomination
Jesse Helms Pulls No Punches, No Surprises
Senate Panel Briefed On Possible China Connection
Clinton Names Satcher As Surgeon General

Bad, Good News For Gore

FDCH Transcripts:
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Special Meeting
Senators Make Remarks After S.F.R.C. Meeting
Clinton Nominates Satcher For Surgeon General
White House Regular News Briefing

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