New Revelations Test Gore's Fund-Raising Explanations
Phone logs show Gore's top aides knew temple event could raise 'a lot of money'
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, June 12) -- What did Al Gore know, and when did he know it? That question continues to swirl around the vice president as more revelations surface about a controversial fund-raiser he attended at a Los Angeles Buddhist temple in April 1996.
The New York Times reported today that the vice president met with the temple's master one month before the event at the White House for what has been described as a purely social visit. But two days before that, former Democratic fund-raiser John Huang suggested another factor to a top Gore aide in a telephone conversation.
"Lead to a lot of money moving support," the vice president's deputy chief of staff, David M. Strauss, noted in a phone log. In a follow-up memo, Huang proposed Gore attend a "fund-raising lunch" at the master's Hsi Lai Temple. Organized by Huang, and slated to bring in $100,000 to Democratic coffers, the event went forward on April 29, 1996, with Gore in attendance.
But did the vice president know it was a fund-raiser, which by law can't be held at religious sites? That's still not certain, but the Times story is more fuel for critics.
When questions surfaced last fall, Gore initially said he believed the event was "community outreach"; later, he said he knew it had been organized by donors, and that holding the event at the temple was "inappropriate." Documents turned over to investigators by former Deputy White House Chief of Staff Harold Ickes show he scheduled Gore for a major fund-raiser in Los Angeles for April 1996.
Gore and his staff declined to comment for the Times story. But anonymous White House sources told the paper that the vice president and his staff feel Huang misled them about the event and its location.
Laid off by the Democratic National Committee last November, Huang is at the center of the fund-raising imbroglio. Rep. Gerald Solomon (R-N.Y.) recently told The Associated Press that FBI officials have confirmed Huang "committed economic espionage" by passing government secrets to the Asian-based Lippo Group, his former employer.
A former Commerce Department official, Huang maintained top security clearance after leaving for the DNC. Of the nearly $3 million in donations the DNC has promised to return, about half was raised by Huang.
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