Gavel To Gavel

Gavel To Gavel: Fund-Raising Hearings

Timeline March '97

1996: Oct | Nov | Dec
1997: Jan | Feb | Mar | Apr | May | June | July | Aug | Sept | Oct

March 2, 1997 -- The Washington Post reports that Vice President Al Gore made numerous fund-raising calls, earning the nick-name "Solicitor-in-Chief."


March 3, 1997 -- Former Clinton aide George Stephanopoulos reveals the vice president made fund-raising calls from his White House office. Gore holds a press conference defending the calls as within the letter of the law, saying he had used a DNC phone credit card. Later, it turns out Gore used a Clinton-Gore credit card. The following day, Clinton defends Gore to reporters. (Transcript of Gore's press conference).

March 5, 1997 -- Supported by the Justice Department, the White House says the first lady's chief of staff, Maggie Williams, did nothing wrong when she accepted a $50,000 donation from Johnny Chung inside the White House.

March 6, 1997 -- The Atlanta-Journal Constitution reports House Speaker Newt Gingrich had offered donors special access and opportunities to affect policy decisions.

March 7, 1997 The Senate Rules Committee approves a $4.35 million probe of fund-raising, stipulating the investigation must be completed by Dec. 31, and a report written by the end of January 1998. At a press conference, the president denies wrongdoing by his aides.

March 9, 1997 -- The Washington Post reports the FBI warned six members of Congress that, "We have reason to believe that the government of China may try to make contributions to members of Congress through Asian donors." Sparking a dispute between the White House and the FBI, President Clinton complains publicly that he was not briefed on the matter. (Transcript of Clinton's Comments.)


March 10, 1997 -- Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), one of the six members of Congress warned by the FBI of possible Chinese influence, says she will return $12,000 in donations tied to the Lippo Group.

March 11, 1997 -- Documents show White House aides planned to use a taxpayer-funded database to reward contributors. "As these supporters are identified and located, the president has asked that they be included in White House social functions as well as policy briefings," an aide wrote.

March 12, 1997 -- The DNC says it will return $107,000 from an American Indian tribe since the funds may have come from a welfare account. Meanwhile, an attorney for Johnny Chung defends his donations as appropriate and says the DNC was too quick to return the money.

March 13, 1997 -- Press Secretary Mike McCurry says no more coffees for supporters will be held at the White House.

March 15, 1997 -- Georgia Republican Rep. Bob Barr writes Judiciary Committee Chairman Henry Hyde (R-Ill.), requesting a review of whether the president or the vice president may be subject to impeachment law. Hyde says his staff will study the issue.

March 17, 1997 After a news report Don Fowler contacted the CIA on behalf of controversial donor Roger Tamraz, who was seeking access to a White House coffee, the intelligence agency orders an internal review on whether national security was jeopardized. Fowler denies the report, and the CIA determines on March 20 that while Fowler did not contact the intelligence agency regarding Tamraz, his subordinates had.


March 17, 1997 -- Anthony Lake withdraws as CIA director nominee, beset by questions about his finances, the administration's Bosnia policy, and whether Lake interacted with Democratic donors while serving as national security advisor.

March 18, 1997 -- The Justice Department releases a statement explaining that, because of the vagueness of reports China sought to influence the 1996 congressional elections, congressional and White House officials weren't briefed. Separately, House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt (D-Mo.) announces he will return $22,000 in donations related to the Lippo Group.

March 19, 1997 -- Pakistani lobbyist and longtime Democratic activist Mark Siegel releases documents suggesting House Government Reform and Oversight Chairman Dan Burton had pressured and threatened him for campaign contributions. Burton adamantly denies the allegation, but the FBI begins an investigation. Meanwhile, the Senate approves 55-44 a non-binding resolution calling for Janet Reno to appoint an independent counsel.

March 21, 1997 -- The House allocates $6.5 million for a House Government Reform and Oversight Committee investigation of Democratic fund-raising, although the probe's current budget calls for spending $3.8 million.

March 22, 1997 -- The New York Times reports that African multi-millionaire Foutanga Dit Babani Sissoko had to pass up a September 1996 dinner invitation with President Clinton because he was being extradited from Geneva to Miami the same evening.

March 23, 1997 -- Documents released by Harold Ickes show that the DNC projected each White House coffee would raise $400,000. The White House initially had claimed the klatches were only to discuss policy issues.


March 25, 1997 -- The New York Times reports that FBI Director Louis Freeh blocked administration efforts to obtain information about China's possible efforts to influence the 1996 elections. Freeh's decision leads to tension between the agency and the White House.

March 26, 1997 -- Businessman Warren Meddoff and Texas financier William Morgan testify before a federal grand jury about Democratic fund-raising.

March 27, 1997 -- The DNC acknowledges carrying $14.4 million in debt, forcing it to delay returning some $3 million in questionable or illegal donations. Meanwhile, Senate investigators issue nine more subpoenas.

1996: Oct | Nov | Dec
1997: Jan | Feb | Mar | Apr | May | June | July | Aug | Sept | Oct

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