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Clintons Mum on Donors

Friday, September 28, 2007

NO NAMES, PLEASE

Clintons Mum on Donors

Bill Clinton is showing no inclination to disclose the names of the people whose sizable donations helped construct his $165 million presidential library.

In a surreal moment during Wednesday night's Democratic debate, Hillary Rodham Clinton was asked about the fact that her husband's foundation and library refuse to disclose the names of the people who have chipped in, sometimes to the tune of millions of dollars -- any of whom might want to curry favor with the family of the next president. Moderator Tim Russert asked why her husband had not voluntarily made the donor list public even if the law does not require it, given the potential for conflict.

"You'll have to ask them," said the senator from New York.

"What's your recommendation?" Russert asked.

"Well, I don't talk about my private conversations with my husband," she responded.

Clinton Library officials and his personal spokesman did not return repeated calls, but NBC News caught up with the former president in New York yesterday, where he was hosting a news conference about his Global Initiative.

"If she becomes president, I will treat it as if we are covered by that, and I will disclose all the donors to our library and activities," he told the network. But that will not apply to those who have already donated, he said.

"For the people that have already given me money, I don't think I should disclose it unless there is some conflict of which I am aware, and there is not."

What little is known about the financing of the Clinton Library was reported in the New York Sun. The reporter found the donor names on a touch-screen computer mounted on a wall on the third floor of the library, shortly after it opened in 2004. The computer was removed soon after the article appeared. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette followed with a more complete list the next year.

Among the names that surfaced were a range of foreign donors, including the Saudi royal family, Kuwait, Brunei and the Embassy of Qatar. Foreigners are not permitted to make campaign donations, but there are no rules in place about who can give to a presidential library.

There were several figures who have factored into stories about the Clintons' fundraising. For instance, Patricia Hotung, the wife of Hong Kong businessman Eric Hotung, was a library donor. In 1997, they were also in the news because Patricia Hotung donated $100,000 to the Democratic National Committee shortly after her husband was granted a meeting with Clinton's top national security advisers.

-- Peter Baker and Matthew Mosk

THE NON-CANDIDATE SPEAKS

Gingrich Calls for Change

Former House speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) sounded like a presidential candidate in a speech in Atlanta last night, railing against high taxes and trial lawyers, and declaring that "tonight and Saturday are the beginning of a movement" at a political convention organized by a group he runs called "American Solutions for Winning the Future."

"We have to have citizens demand change, because change in America starts from the bottom and works its way up," Gingrich said, standing in front of a huge banner that said "Real Change Requires Real Change."

His speech was the start of a two-day conference that he has dubbed "Solutions Day," which will feature workshops on policy issues in Atlanta.

The event is the latest move by Gingrich both to inject himself into the 2008 Republican nomination process and leave open the possibility of running himself.

After spending most of the year saying he was unlikely to run for president, Gingrich said this month that he would run if supporters pledged to raise $30 million for him by November. That would be more than any GOP candidate has raised in a three-month period.

-- Perry Bacon Jr.

MTV-MYSPACE FORUM

Live, and Clicking

DURHAM, N.H. -- Welcome, candidates, to the clickocracy.

As John Edwards stood center stage at Thursday's MTV-MySpace presidential forum -- answering questions sent online via instant messages and from an audience of students gathered at the University of New Hampshire -- viewers on MTV.com and MySpace.com rated his responses in real time.

Does he "understand reality" or is he "out of touch"? The results showed up in a color-coded online graphic -- green for good answers and pink for bad. The Democratic candidate and former senator from North Carolina fielded questions on education, Iraq, health care, the environment and stem cell research. The online graph was mostly green throughout the event.

"A lot of students are on MySpace," said Bie Aweh, 18, a political science major. "Everyone watches MTV. Seems like a perfect fit to me."

-- Jose Antonio Vargas

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