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Casino Investigation Would Reach Beyond Babbitt, Officials Say (Feb. 11)

Findings Link Clinton Allies to Chinese Intelligence (Feb. 10)

Republicans Delay Report on Campaign Fund-Raising

By Guy Gugliotta
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 11, 1998; Page A12

Republicans investigating campaign finance abuses in the 1996 election delayed approval of their final report yesterday to make changes requested by two senators, guaranteeing that the document will not be formally released until the end of this month, GOP sources said.

The Jan. 31 deadline for publication of the 1,500-page report has slipped repeatedly while Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Fred D. Thompson (R-Tenn.) and intelligence agencies negotiated the contents of an acceptable unclassified section describing the alleged involvement in U.S. elections by the People's Republic of China.

The Washington Post reported yesterday that the final draft of the China chapter describes "a long-term relationship" between Indonesia-based industrialists Mochtar and James Riady and "a Chinese intelligence agency." The Riadys have known and supported President Clinton since his days as Arkansas governor in the early 1980s.

Knowledgeable Republican sources said the FBI and CIA signed off on the China material yesterday, and the Republican senators have all approved it. Thompson also told the nine other Republicans at a committee meeting yesterday that Attorney General Janet Reno informed him Friday about additional material related to China that she wanted "to share with the committee," said one source who attended.

Committee Republicans were reluctant to describe what happened at yesterday's meeting, directing questions to Thompson, who said only that "several issues need to be discussed" before senators could sign the final report.

Republican sources said, however, that the committee was hung up because of changes requested by Sens. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) and Robert F. Bennett (R-Utah). Specter refused to comment on the meeting, but the sources said he wanted to strengthen the criticism of Republican-sympathizing nonprofit organizations.

Chief among these is the National Policy Forum, a nonprofit spinoff of the Republican National Committee that accepted a loan from a foreign source, allowing it to repay an RNC loan and free up money for the national GOP to spend on its 1994 campaigns. The final draft of the Democratic committee report accuses former RNC chairman Haley Barbour of deliberately setting up the "scheme." Barbour has said he did not know the loan came from overseas.

Bennett said he wanted to tune up aspects of the report dealing with former Democratic Party fund-raiser John Huang. Bennett suggested that the GOP report currently does not delve in any depth into Huang's supposed contacts with China, which Bennett said "are very strong." But rather than modifying the GOP's report, Bennett said he was willing to attach his views about Huang as a separate statement.

No Republican senator described serious intramural strife over the GOP report, although some GOP sources have complained that the material is not tough enough on the Clinton administration and that the report's information does not go much beyond the material divulged in the committee's public hearings that ended last October. Leaked copies of the draft report have disclosed little new material.

Failure by the Republicans to sign the report yesterday meant that the final document will not be released until after the Presidents Day recess, which is to begin Friday and last until Feb. 23. Under committee rules, Democrats must have three working days to examine the report before it is made public.

Republican sources said the committee still has not decided which individuals Thompson will refer to the Justice Department for possible prosecution. They said that this section of the report would be completed during the recess.

But sources familiar with the committee said that, although a draft had recommended it, the final report would not ask the Justice Department to investigate testimony by Clinton fund-raiser Terence McAuliffe regarding his dealings with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters during the 1996 campaign.

The much-ballyhooed campaign finance investigation ended inconclusively at the end of last year after months of highly partisan hearings that featured unflattering characterizations of both parties. Republicans successfully portrayed the Clinton administration as engaged in a relentless and indecorous search for cash, while Democrats demonstrated that Republicans are guilty of many of the same transgressions.

Yesterday the partisan sparring continued. Sen. Richard J. Durbin (Ill.), a Democratic committee member, expressed distaste for the new China material, saying he wondered why it had taken so long to produce "surprise evidence -- excuse me if I'm skeptical."

And Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), co-author of a pending campaign reform bill, said the current squabbling was hardly surprising. "It started out as a partisan committee," McCain said. "And it ended in a partisan committee."

© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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