Campaign Finance Key Player:
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Bernard Schwartz is the wealthy, maverick chief executive officer of Loral Space and Communications Ltd., the aerospace firm under investigation for allegedly providing unauthorized assistance to China's ballistic missile program.
But as a result of his contributions, Schwartz is at the center of Justice Department and congressional investigations into allegations related to Chinese missile technology.
At issue: Whether Loral and Hughes Electronics Corp. helped improve China's missile guidance systems by analyzing a failed 1996 satellite launch in China; and whether the White House's decision this year to grant Loral a waiver for another satellite launch in China was granted on account of Shwartz's donations.
Loral says the waiver was "handled in a routine way" by the U.S. government. "No political favors or benefits of any kind were requested or extended," the company said in a statment.
Schwartz, a self-described "Democratic populist" who has spent his career in an industry dominated by Republicans, says the "confluence" of his own increased contributions and the Clinton administration's favorable treatment of his company was "just coincidence."
In addition to the ongoing Justice Department investigation, House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) is planning to form a select committee to probe the Chinese missile allegations, to be chaired by Rep. Christopher Cox (R-Calif.).
Last updated May 28, 1998
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