WASHINGTON — The Clinton White House held at least 58 receptions, meals and other events for Democratic Party donors and political supporters over the past four years, the Washington Post reported in Sunday editions.
The newspaper said the events were in addition to the 103 coffee meetings previously disclosed by the White House.
“It’s fair to say that these additional functions at the White House were for the purpose of encouraging support for the president’s campaign, including financial support,” White House special counsel Lanny Davis told the newspaper.
Republicans have urged Attorney General Janet Reno to appoint an independent counsel to investigate allegations of improper fundraising by President Clinton and the Democratic National Committee, including illegal contributions from foreign companies and many overnight stays at the White House.
Reports allege the President and Vice President hosted White House events for Democratic donors
Reviews of White House guest lists for political functions, released to a congressional committee last week, showed that guests at the coffees donated $27 million to the DNC. Overnight guests at the White House donated at least $6 million, the Post said.
The 58 White House events included more than 30 receptions, a $3,838 DNC tea in 1994, and a $2,294 Clinton-Gore luncheon last May.
The Post also quoted Lorraine Voles, spokeswoman for Vice President Al Gore, as saying that Gore’s office discovered last week that the White House failed to seek proper reimbursement for 18 of 20 coffees he hosted in his office in the Old Executive Office Building.
Reimbursement bills weren’t sent at all for 11 coffees and the costs for seven others were mistakenly billed to Gore’s Senate account. Gore is president of the Senate.
“We discovered an accounting error and we are moving quickly to correct the error,” the Post quoted Voles as saying. “We expect a full reimbursement very soon.” The amount involved is estimated at about $500, the Post said.
The Post also reported that a Chinese businessman who attended a White House coffee for campaign donors hosted by President Clinton last year has denied seeking the meeting and said it was arranged by a New York investment bank.
Wang Jun, who heads a Chinese financial and industrial conglomerate and a military-owned arms trading firm, told the Post the main purpose of his U.S. visit was not an effort by his government to win influence in the United States.
Wang, who heads the China International Trust and Investment Corp. conglomerate, said he was invited to visit the United States by Lehman Brothers Inc., which is competing with other American firms to do business with China.
The Chinese executive said he accepted the invitation because he was interested in exploring how receptive U.S. financial markets would be to new debt offerings by Chinese companies and government agencies, the Post reported.
“I didn’t propose the meeting,” Wang told the Post in an interview in Beijing last week. “I said again and again that Clinton was too busy. I had little to talk to him about.”
The Justice Department believes China tried to direct nearly $2 million in illegal campaign contributions to members of Congress and Clinton administration officials.
Chinese Premier Li Peng Friday flatly denied China had sought to influence U.S. elections or funnel money to presidential or congressional candidates.
Wang also denied he or his firm were trying to influence U.S. politics or policy through illegal campaign contributions. “I don’t even get involved in politics in China, let alone in the United States,” he told the newspaper.
A spokesman for Lehman Brothers told the Post that executives of the firm met with Wang during his U.S. visit, but said the firm played no role in arranging the White House visit. Wang also said Trie played a role in arranging the White House visit. DNC spokeswoman Amy Weiss Tobe told the Post it was Trie who asked whether Wang could attend the coffee.
Wang’s main contact at Lehman was Ernest Green, who contributed $50,000 to the DNC the day after Wang’s visit to the White House. Green called the timing of the contribution coincidental and said it came from his own personal funds, the Post reported, noting Green was a major Democratic Party fund raiser and long-time friend of Clinton’s and Trie’s.
It said the FBI had interviewed Green as part of the Justice Department investigation.