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Panel Probes DNC Files DelayBy Bob Woodward
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, August 8, 1997; Page A01
The Senate committee examining campaign finance abuses has begun an investigation to determine whether the Democratic National Committee obstructed the panel's inquiry by not delivering until Monday 4,000 pages of documents from the files of former DNC finance director Richard Sullivan.
Sullivan was the committee's first witness at public hearings that began last month, and all documents from his files had been subpoenaed and were required to be turned over by April 30, more than three months ago.
DNC officials said the documents, contained in two boxes, include 1,500 pages of Sullivan's handwritten notes, files on controversial Democratic contributors such as Roger Tamraz and Johnny Chung, and 12 fund-raising call sheets prepared for Hillary Rodham Clinton asking her to call donors such as designer Ralph Lauren and request $100,000 or $50,000.
The documents include an additional 21 call sheets not addressed to anyone specifically but suggesting that calls be made to other donors, including movie director Steven Spielberg.
Marsha Berry, the first lady's communications director, said yesterday that it was the first she had heard of the call sheets senior DNC officials prepared for Hillary Clinton. "Mrs. Clinton does not recall actually making any fund-raising calls," Berry said, "but she does not rule it out." There are no notations under the heading "Call Results" on the 12 call sheets addressed to Hillary Clinton.
Senate Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Fred D. Thompson (R-Tenn.) said the documents handed over Monday would have been indispensable to the panel's investigators as they took Sullivan's deposition in June and prepared for his July testimony at public hearings. Prior to Sullivan's public testimony last month, the DNC had provided some 5,000 pages from his files. Thompson said committee attorneys will probably seek additional sworn testimony from Sullivan after they review the new material.
"This is a very serious matter," Thompson said in an interview. "Unfortunately, it is part of a pattern that has been going on for months, including intolerable delays from the White House."
Colorado Gov. Roy Romer, the DNC chairman, said in an interview yesterday that he met with Thompson July 22 and agreed to double the staff reviewing documents and to check in each Friday. Last Friday, Aug. 1, he said, he phoned Thompson and said he was embarrassed to report that they had discovered new Sullivan documents. Romer promised the materials would be delivered to the committee on Monday, after aides reviewed them over the weekend.
Romer said yesterday that the failure to discover the documents earlier was the result of "pure, innocent oversight."
"We're trying to play it straight without breaking this party. . . . I don't know of anyone who is trying to delay or conceal." Romer said that the new Sullivan material was discovered Wednesday, July 30, by Paul DiNino, the new finance director who took over from Sullivan.
DiNino moved into Sullivan's former office on Feb. 20. In an interview yesterday, DiNino said the new Sullivan documents were in a drawer in the only file cabinet in his office. Asked why he waited more than five months to look in the drawer, DiNino said there was a new push at the end of July to make sure all DNC files had been reviewed. "I hadn't looked in before . . . I don't like paper anyway, and I didn't need space for files. Richard [Sullivan] and I have different styles. Richard saved a lot of things."
When he discovered the material July 30, DiNino said, he called DNC lawyers at once.
In an interview, Thompson said he felt the delay was unacceptable. "The people who were handling this are going to be held accountable," Thompson said. He added that he is considering taking sworn statements from "everyone at the DNC from the janitors on up to determine where those documents were," and who had access to them and control of them during April when they were subpoenaed until they were turned over Monday.
Thompson added, "I think Governor Romer is trying his best to get on top of it."
Thompson said he was perplexed by the discovery of the new documents because Sullivan testified in his sworn deposition that he had made a concerted effort to search for and turn over all his relevant papers to the committee.
"I made a very sincere, comprehensive effort to turn over anything relating to any subpoena," Sullivan said in his June 4 deposition, "and encouraged the employees there and encouraged my assistant . . . to diligently search all files in his computer. . . . I left all of my documents for the DNC lawyers to hold."
Peter Kadzik, an attorney handling the DNC document review, said yesterday that the newly discovered documents "were in a file cabinet that we thought contained generic finance documents or those of his [Sullivan's] assistant."
Kadzik said it was inevitable there would be delayed production of some documents because some 9 million documents have to be reviewed to comply with 13 subpoenas issued by congressional committees, the Justice Department, or in civil lawsuits.
"Right now, we have 17 full-time employees working on document production, and we hope to double that number in the next couple of weeks," Kadzik added, characterizing the oversight as an innocent mistake.
Asked if Thompson is correct in asserting that the documents are relevant to the committee's work, Kadzik said, "No one is disputing that the documents are relevant."
Thompson's committee was criticized by some Republicans for making Sullivan the initial witness at hearings that began July 8. From Sullivan's previous sworn testimony in confidential depositions, Republicans on the Senate committee had expected Sullivan to be more critical of the Democratic Party's fund-raising practices, but in the public hearings Sullivan carefully hedged his remarks.
In Sullivan's confidential testimony in June, he said that he "did not take extensive, copious notes" about his fund-raising efforts and did not keep extensive files or generally retain his handwritten notes. Thompson expressed surprise that Sullivan had kept 1,500 pages of handwritten notes.
Robert F. Bauer, Sullivan's attorney, said last night that months ago he advised the DNC, which had custody of all of Sullivan's documents, that it had not turned over everything and some specific items had not been produced. "It is clear we were right," Bauer said.
The new documents include Sullivan's handwritten notes that appear to relate to an Oct. 6, 1995, meeting Sullivan attended with Donald L. Fowler, then the DNC co-chairman, and Roger Tamraz, an international oil financier wanted by Interpol in connection with an alleged $200 million bank embezzlement scheme in Lebanon.
Tamraz donated $177,000 to Democrats in 1995 and 1996, records show. He continued to receive invitations to attend events with President Clinton even after the National Security Council warned the DNC about his background. On March 27, 1996, Tamraz briefly met with Clinton and discussed his proposal to build an oil pipeline from the Caspian Sea region. Although Tamraz requested a review of his proposal, the Clinton administration says the review never took place.
A December 1995 internal CIA memo says Fowler made several attempts to have the CIA provide the NSC with a favorable report on Tamraz.
Other information in the new Sullivan files involves Johnny Chung, who recently told the Los Angeles Times that he delivered $50,000 at the request of a member of Hillary Clinton's staff, an apparent violation of the Hatch Act, which prohibits federal employees from soliciting donations on federal property.
The first lady's office has said that chief of staff Margaret A. Williams only forwarded the $50,000 donation to the DNC without soliciting the contribution.
The Sullivan documents also include a file labeled Harold Ickes, after the former deputy chief of staff at the White House whose responsibilities included liaison with the DNC. According to a DNC official, the file contains a memo from Ickes describing how $1 million would be raised at the end of 1995, when the DNC was desperate for funds to pay for the Clinton advertising blitz being run by former Clinton campaign consultant Dick Morris.
The memo, dated Dec. 20, 1995, says that solicitation calls made by Vice President Gore would provide an additional $195,000, that "Labor" would give $400,000 "re: Terry McAuliffe." McAuliffe was the head fund-raiser for the Clinton-Gore campaign. He said yesterday that the $400,000 possibly referred to money he raised in phone calls to some of the 20 to 25 labor union presidents he had solicited for the DNC.
The memo from Sullivan and former DNC finance chairman Marvin Rosen says that an additional $340,000 would be needed from calls made by Clinton and Gore.
In the interview, Thompson voiced frustration and disappointment. He said he was not going to allow his investigation to be stymied. The White House was so slow in supplying documents last week that the committee unanimously agreed to formally issue its first subpoenas to the White House.
"Coming on the heels of the White House slow-walking and delays," Thompson said, "if it ever turns out that there was an orchestrated cover-up and deliberate effort to obstruct the committee's work, then we're entering a new realm."
Researcher Jeff Glasser contributed to this report.
© Copyright 1997 The Washington Post Company