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Democratic Fund-Raiser Kanchanalak Pleads Not Guilty

Kanchanalak
Pauline Kanchanalak

WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, July 29) -- Thai businesswoman Pauline Kanchanalak pleaded not guilty in federal court Wednesday to charges she allegedly steered more than $600,000 in illegal overseas campaign contributions to the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

Kanchanalak surrendered her passport and was released on a $250,000 bond. The judge set Aug. 12 for her next hearing, but her attorney, Reid Weingarten, is contesting that because he has a conflict.

Ailing and financially pressed, Kanchanalak voluntarily returned to the United States from Bangkok Tuesday to fight the federal criminal charges.

When government lawyers asked for a $500,000 bond, Weingarten said Kanchanalak's personal finances were "not terrific" because of the Asian financial crisis and the disruption to her business caused by her departure from the U.S.

He also said Kanchanalak is suffering from "very significant" health problems, but offered no details in court.

The 24-count indictment by the Justice Department's campaign finance task force accuses Kanchanalak of using the contributions to gain access to top Clinton Administration officials.

Kanchanalak is charged with providing large checks to the DNC the same day she brought Asian business associates to a coffee with President Clinton in the White House in 1996.

Kanchanalak has been living in Bangkok since January 1997, when she fled the U.S. after becoming a major figure in a political scandal over illegal Asian donations to the Democratic National Committee in the last election.

CNN's Terry Frieden and Brooks Jackson contributed to this report.
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