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Clinton Raises Money, Calls For Campaign Reform

'A clear indication that he's not sincere,' says watchdog group


BOSTON (AllPolitics, Feb. 19) -- President Bill Clinton used an unusual occasion -- a $1.2 million fund-raiser at a posh Manhattan townhouse -- to say again it's time to reform how the political parties raise money.

At the Tuesday night event, Clinton urged attendees who had contributed from $10,000 to $25,000 "to support a bipartisan solution to this. We need to just put this behind us."

But the contrast between Clinton's words and deeds has opened him to charges of hypocrisy, and the president was clearly on edge during his two-day trip to New York and Boston.

In an interview with The Boston Globe, Clinton said what drove the Democrats' aggressive fund-raising was the Republicans' historic advantage at raising money.

"What was clearly the case was the size of the effort, trying to catch up, even though we never quite got there... outstripped the organizational capacity for the party to handle it in a proper way, and the White House," Clinton told the Globe.


"We know that we did not raise as much foreign money, as much money in big contributions, as much money in interest group contributions as the other party does. And yet you never ask them these questions," he said.

Clinton was asked if he should have set a higher standard. Visibly angered, he replied: "You come and ask us to give up the ability that we have to raise what little money it takes to remain remotely competitive.

"Now can you explain to me how that will be setting a moral example if I made the Democrats even more vulnerable than they are now?" Clinton said.

"And what is wrong with that?" he asked of his fund-raising efforts. "We disclose all this money. That's how you know what you know."

But Clinton did admit that as party leader, he bears responsibility for the Democrats' questionable fund-raising, now the subject of Justice Department and congressional investigations.

Clinton said party officials should have not have accepted the donations that have been judged improper and returned by the party.

"It's everybody's responsibility, from me, down, who didn't know about it but should have," Clinton said. "It will never happen again, you can rest assured."

The New York fund-raiser was at the home of telecommunications executive Shelby Bryan, and drew about 120 people. The money went to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Kent Cooper, the new executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington, D.C., watchdog group, ripped Clinton's appearance at the fund-raiser. "It's a clear indication that he's not sincere or willing to put into practice what he preaches," Cooper said.

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