Gavel To Gavel

Gavel To Gavel: Fund-Raising Hearings

Frequently Asked Questions

Senate Investigation | Schedule | Scope | Witnesses | The Law | Miscellaneous

Senate Investigation

Q: What committee is conducting the fund-raising investigation?

A: The Senate Governmental Affairs committee.

Q: Who is on it?

A: The committee members include nine Republicans and seven Democrats, a ratio reflecting the GOP majority in the Senate. Its chair is Sen. Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.), while Sen. John Glenn (D-Ohio) serves as the body's ranking Democrat. [See the full roster of committee members]

Q: How much money has been allocated to the investigation?

A: The Senate voted to grant the committee $4.35 million.

Q: What is the committee's jurisdiction?

A: According to Rule XXV of the Standing Rules of the U.S. Senate of the 105th Congress, the Committee on Governmental Affairs shall be referred all proposed legislation, messages, petitions, memorials, and other matters relating to the following subjects:

(1) Archives of the United States, (2) Budget and accounting measures, other than appropriations, except as provided in the Congressional Budget Act of 1974, (3) Census and collection of statistics, including economic and social statistics, (4) Congressional organization, except for any part of the matter that amends the rules or orders of the Senate, (5) Federal Civil Service, (6) Government information, (7) Intergovernmental relations, (8) Municipal affairs of the District of Columbia, except appropriations therefor, (9) Organization and management of United States nuclear export policy, (10) Organization and reorganization of the executive branch of the Government, (11) Postal Service, (12) Status of officers and employees of the United States, including their classification, compensation, and benefits.

Such committee shall also have the duty of (A) receiving and examining reports of the Comptroller General of the United States and submitting such recommendations to the Senate as it deems necessary or desirable in connection with the subject matter of such reports; (B) studying the efficiency, economy, and effectiveness of all agencies and departments of the Government; (C) evaluating the effects of laws enacted to reorganize the legislative and executive branches of the Government; and (D) studying the intergovernmental relationships between the United States and the States and municipalities, and between the United States and international organizations of which the United States is a member.


Q: What is the Senate committee's daily schedule for hearing testimony?

A: Lawmakers will hear from witnesses from 10 a.m. to noon and 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, and meet on Fridays if necessary, through July.

Q: How many sessions of hearings are planned?

A: The hearings will be split into two sessions. The first is slated to start July 8 and is expected to take the whole month. The second session will begin after Labor Day and continue through the end of the year.

Q: When will it end?

A: The hearings must conclude by Dec. 31, 1997, barring a full Senate vote for an extension. A final report will be issued no later then January 1998.


Q: What issues will the Senate hearings address?

A: The first session will focus on money allegedly given to the Democrats from overseas, the funneling of that money, who had access to sensitive information and who that information was passed on to, and any breaches of national security.

The second session will review more general election activities. That will include the role of so-called "soft money," donations to political parties that are unregulated and unlimited, and tax-exempt independent groups in election fund-raising and spending. The issue of security clearances at the White House should also come up.


Q: Who will the first witnesses be?

A: On July 2, the committee released a list of 30 names of potential witnesses. During the first week of testimony, the committee expects to hear from White House officials and Democratic Party officials, including Clinton advisor Bruce Lindsey; Maggie Williams, chief of staff to first lady Hillary Clinton; former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Harold Ickes; Democratic National Committee (DNC) lawyer Joseph Sandler; former DNC Chairman Don Fowler; and former DNC finance director Marvin Rosen. The exact day each witness would appear was not provided.

Q: How many subpoenas has the committee issued?

A: 183. [See the full list]

Q: Why have there been problems gaining witness testimony?

A: Virtually every principal figure on the overseas money side of the scandal plans to exercise a Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination or has fled the country. Businessman James Riady, Democratic fund-raiser Charlie Yah Lin Trie and Thai business consultant Pauline Kanchanalak are living in Asia, beyond the reach of subpoenas.

The Law

Q: So, what's legal when giving money?

A: Non-citizens may give if they are legally admitted as permanent residents (i.e., have a "green card") and are living in the U.S. at the time. U.S. subsidiaries of overseas corporations may give, if those subsidiaries supply the money from their own revenues and are not acting on orders from overseas.

Q: Alright then, what's not legal?

A: Non-citizens may not give to any federal, state or local U.S. candidate or political party unless they have a "green card." Non-U.S. corporations may not give to any federal, state or local U.S. candidate or political party. (It's also illegal for U.S. corporations to give to federal candidates, but they get around that by using the "soft money" loophole, giving to political parties which spend the money on state and local political activities where that is legal. But the "soft money" avenue isn't open to non-U.S. corporations because they are barred by federal law from giving, even at the state and local level.)

Q: And where is the grey area?

A: It may violate the law for any non-citizen to give while living outside the U.S., even if they have a "green card." The Democratic National Committee (which took $450,000 from an Indonesian couple, $320,000 of it after they had gone back to Jakarta) says it's permitted. But some Republican election lawyers say it is not, and some independent legal experts say the GOP lawyers may be right. The Federal Election Commission is expected to review this matter.


Q: Got a good recipe for coconut cream pie?

A: No, but Sen. Thompson's mother's version must be pretty good, because her son has included it on his otherwise business-like Web site. There is also a recipe for Ruth Thompson's "famous fresh" coconut cake. Here's the link to both:

home | news | in-depth | analysis | what's new | community | contents | search

Click here for technical help or to send us feedback.

Copyright © 1997 AllPolitics All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this information is provided to you.