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Campaign Finance Key Player:
The Hsi Lai Temple

This profile was compiled from Washington Post and washingtonpost.com staff reports. Click on linked names to read other profiles, or see the full list of key players.

The Democratic National Committee took in $140,000 at an April 1996 fund-raiser featuring Vice President Gore at the Hsi Lai Temple, a tax-exempt Buddhist monastery in Hacienda Heights, near Los Angeles.

From The Post:
GOP Hits Gore on Temple Fund-Raiser, March 16, 1997
Democratic Fund-Raiser Hsia Indicted, Feb. 19, 1998
Site of Tranquillity in Cash Controversy, Oct. 18, 1996
The temple fund-raiser was organized by John Huang and Maria Hsia. Hsia was indicted Feb. 18 on federal charges of laundering campaign contributions from the temple. And the temple, also known as the International Buddhist Progress Society, was cited as an unindicted co-conspirator.

Gore suffered considerable embarrassment from the temple visit. He initially said it wasn't a fund-raising event, but memos prepared by the DNC for his staff clearly show that those joining him for lunch at the temple had to contribute $2,500 per person to the party.

What early on appeared to be a mystery – how monks and nuns living on $40 monthly stipends could afford to make hefty campaign contributions – was at least partly solved by reports that the temple repaid individuals who donated.

It is illegal to finance a political donation officially listed in the name of another.

The DNC later returned most of the donations and paid the temple back for the cost of the event, admitting it was wrong to hold a political fund-raiser at a tax-exempt religious institution.

Last updated March 4, 1998

© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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