Gavel To Gavel

Gavel To Gavel: Fund-Raising Hearings

'Straw Donors' Are First Witnesses In House Probe

WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Oct. 9) -- Finally underway with witness testimony today, the House committee looking into campaign finance irregularities began public hearings into an alleged coverup of illegal contributions from abroad.

After delaying the proceedings for weeks with their requests for immunity, Manlin Foung, Joseph Landon and David Wang took the stand today. The witnesses invoked the House rule which allows those under subpoena to insist that news cameras be removed during their testimony.

Foung is the sister of restaurateur and Democratic contributor Charlie Trie, a principal figure in the campaign finance controversy. Landon is a friend of Foung.

Trie raised and donated hundreds of thousands of dollars for the Democrats, all of which was returned. Trie is refusing to cooperate with investigators and is living in China.

Foung and Landon said at Trie's request, they separately wrote $12,500 checks to the Democratic National Committee in February 1996 for a fund-raiser at a Washington, D.C., hotel. Neither knew anything of the event, and were reimbursed a week later by Antonio Pan who had a Hong Kong address.


Rep. Dan Burton, chairman of the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee, called it proof the witnesses were straw donors. "Ms. Foung and Mr. Landon contributed $35,000 to the DNC in 1996 at Charlie Trie's request. They were promptly reimbursed for each contribution," Burton said.

Foung responded to Burton's charges that she and Landon essentially laundered money with their contributions to the Democrats, saying she had "no knowledge of any laundering activity or anything like that. I was simply doing my brother a favor."

"I didn't even know what DNC means," Foung continued.

Foung also described meeting President Bill Clinton at a California fund-raiser in which the president described Trie as a "good friend, a close friend or a longtime friend."

Landon admitted his role as serving as a conduit. When he was asked if he had been to any political events, Landon responded, "Just this one."


The day's third witness, David Wang, told the committee he was a conduit for funds from another central figure in the investigation, former DNC fund-raiser John Huang. Wang contributed $5,000 for a ticket to a fund-raiser and was later reimbursed. Wang said he met with Huang about the donation on Aug. 16, 1996 in Los Angeles.

But committee Democrats said Wang's information was bogus. Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) pointed out that Wang was not even in Los Angeles at the time of this supposed meeting with Huang. "It is now clear David Wang never should have received immunity. He has repeatedly misled the committee," Waxman said.

CNN's Bob Franken contributed to this report.

In Other News:

Thursday Oct. 9, 1997

Senators Focus On Alleged Teamsters Swap
'Straw Donors' Are First Witnesses In House Probe
$8 Million Fine For Illegal Corporate Donations
Reno Frustrated Over Delayed Tapes Release

E-Mail From Washington:
A Subpoena For Communications Agency

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