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Grand Jury Hears Testimony On Fund-Raising

Warren Meddoff testifies on Harold Ickes and other matters

By Bob Franken/CNN


WASHINGTON (March 26) -- Warren Meddoff was the man who thrust a card in President Bill Clinton's hand last October at a fund-raiser that said, "My associate has $5 million to donate to the DNC [Democratic National Committee]."

The next day, Meddoff heard from then-White House deputy chief of staff Harold Ickes. Now, he has answered several hours of questions before a federal grand jury in Washington, D.C.

"Their focus was on Mr. Ickes and fund-raising," Meddoff said. Specifically, he said, prosecutors covered the same information disclosed in February news reports that after he had made his $5 million offer to Clinton on behalf of a client at a Biltmore Hotel fund-raiser in Miami, Ickes called him the next day. And when Meddoff specified the campaign contributions should be tax-deductible, Ickes sent a fax from the White House which began, "If possible, it would be greatly appreciated if the following amounts can be wired to the designated banks."


The memo went on to specify where some of the money could go: Three organizations friendly to the Clinton campaign that worked on getting voters to the polls. In total, they were slated for $500,000, with another $500,000 suggested for the DNC.

The contributions were never made, and Meddoff says Ickes told him to "shred" the fax memorandum, something Ickes has denied.

Meddoff also says he told the grand jury that he was solicited for campaign contributions in December and January -- $500 from a Florida Democrat.and $25,000 from the Inaugural committee. Again, the contributions were never made. The reason this time, Meddoff said, was while his company "is a U.S. company, it has associations with our parent corporation, which is a Danish corporation."


Also appearing before the grand jury was Texas financier William Morgan, the man who asked Meddoff to inquire about the donations to Clinton's re-election effort. Unlike Meddoff, however, Morgan refused to answer reporters' questions. He has told CNN in the past, however, that he had been led to believe by an unnamed White House official that his $5 million might get him favorable treatment by the administration.

The grand jury is being led by the federal task force put together by Attorney General Janet Reno. Among the issues being explored is whether White House officials illegally used federal property to solicit campaign money, and whether promises were made in return for the money.

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