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Gore Admits Temple Fund-Raiser Was A 'Mistake'


WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Jan. 24) -- His attendance at a Democratic fund-raiser held at a Buddhist temple last April was "inappropriate" and a "mistake," Vice President Al Gore admitted today in an interview on NBC's "Today."

While insisting that at the time he did not know the gathering was a fund-raiser, Gore said he was aware that "finance people" were in attendance.

"I knew it was a political event and I knew there were finance people who were going to be present," Gore said. "And so that alone should have told me this was inappropriate, this was a mistake, don't do this. And I take responsibility for that."

The luncheon at the Hsi Lai Temple in Hacienda Heights, Calif., was organized by former Democratic fund-raiser John Huang, and $140,000 was collected after Gore departed.

It is illegal for tax-exempt religious organizations to be used for political events. When Gore was first questioned during last year's election about the temple event, he pleaded ignorance, saying the luncheon was "not billed as a fund-raiser. It was billed as a community outreach event."

But last week Gore's office characterized the vice president's response as a poor choice of words. "In retrospect, the more accurate term was 'political outreach' or something that indicated a finance-related component to the event," said White House spokeswoman Lorraine Voles.

The White House change of statement came after the public disclosure of a DNC finance office memo, dated three days before the April 29, 1996 event, informing the vice president's staff that Gore was expected to "extend appreciation for participant support and inspire political and fund-raising efforts" and that Democratic donors would be in attendance.

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