Subpoena Widens Finance Probe
By George Lardner Jr.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, August 15, 1997; Page A04
Senate investigators have broadened their search for potential influence-peddling in the Clinton administration, issuing a subpoena for White House records on controversies ranging from a coal-rich national monument in Utah to a proposed Indian casino in Wisconsin to a shrimp cocktail buffet in Guam for first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton.
The chairman of the Senate committee investigating campaign finance abuses, Fred D. Thompson (R-Tenn.), issued the subpoena late last month after Democrats and Republicans on the panel complained of White House stalling under a voluntary arrangement to provide documents.
A copy of the subpoena was obtained by The Washington Post. Covering 25 categories, it suggests the committee intends to expand its scope considerably when Congress returns from its August recess.
Kent Cooper, head of the Center for Responsive Politics, said the demands were "pretty specific" and could prove productive. In light of the memos and notes that have been made public on other issues, he said, "this is an administration that wrote down an awful lot."
The demand for records about Hillary Clinton's Sept. 4, 1995, visit to Guam was one of several concerning the American territory. For the past 10 years, officials in Guam have been asking in vain for a law that would give its officials more authority over immigration, taxes, trade, labor laws and federal land.
Three weeks after the first lady's visit, capped by a buffet hosted by the island's governor, Carl T. Gutierrez, a Guam Democratic Party official turned up in Washington with more than $250,000 in campaign contributions. Within six months, Gutierrez and a small group of Guam businessmen had contributed $132,000 to the Clinton-Gore campaign and $510,000 in "soft money" to the Democratic National Committee.
The donations were followed by an administration proposal, since shelved, to support key provisions of the proposed Guam Commonwealth Act, a marked shift from the stance of previous administrations. "Only when we showed Washington that there were people who could write a $1,000 check, a $5,000 check, a $25,000 check, did people begin to sit up and take notice," Gutierrez boasted in one interview.
The controversy over the coal-rich 1.7-million-acre Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument has been bubbling since last September when President Clinton set aside the Utah canyon lands under a 1906 law that allows the president to designate national monuments without congressional approval.
The surprise election-year move was applauded by environmentalists, but drew opposition from Utah officials who said it would block a Dutch company's planned development of a mine with clean-coal deposits valued by some at $1 trillion. "We can't have mines everywhere," Clinton said at the dedication ceremony.
Creation of the monument prompted allegations that it was designed to boost the value of similarly rich coal fields in Indonesia as a reward to the Lippo Group for its campaign contributions. Documents obtained by congressional investigators thus far, however, do not show a Lippo connection.
The off-reservation gambling casino proposed by three Wisconsin Chippewa tribes was scuttled at the Interior Department in mid-1995 after an intense lobbying effort by seven opposing Minnesota and Wisconsin tribes which gave $321,000 to the national Democratic Party and Minnesota's Democratic Farmer-Labor Party.
A lobbyist for one of the opposing tribes, Patrick O'Connor, talked to Clinton about the "problem" at an April 1995 Twin Cities reception and subsequently wrote White House deputy chief of staff Harold Ickes about the matter, according to information disclosed as a result of a federal lawsuit brought by the Chippewa.
Ickes contacted Interior the next month. The project was formally rejected at Interior in July 1995, overruling officials in Minneapolis who recommended approval. A federal judge in Wisconsin recently held "there is a distinct possibility that improper political influence affected [the] decision."
The subpoena also calls for White House documents bearing on:
A transatlantic banana war won with White House help this year by the Chiquita banana empire headed by Carl Lindner, a sometime Lincoln Bedroom guest.
Contacts with Clinton and others at the White House by a top adviser to the president of Paraguay and a Miami businessman active in Paraguay, Mark Jiminez. In 1995 and 1996, Clinton continued foreign aid to Paraguay despite State Department refusal to certify Paraguay's drug-fighting efforts. According to the Wall Street Journal, Jiminez's company, Future Tech International, and his employees contributed $806,000 since 1993 to the DNC, the Clinton-Gore campaign and other endeavors affiliated with the president.
Shen Jueren, head of a trading company wholly owned by the Chinese government, and his September 1993 contacts with Vice President Gore in Los Angeles and with Gore chief of staff Jack Quinn in Washington three days earlier. According to Time magazine, DNC fund-raiser John Huang signed three $15,000 checks to the Democratic Party in that period, and a thank-you note to Quinn for arranging the meeting with Gore.
The White House declined to comment on particulars of the subpoena. An official who asked not to be named said only that "we have been providing documents to the committee and are continuing to comply fully with the committee's requests."
© Copyright 1997 The Washington Post
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