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Reno refuses to start Gore funding inquiry

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published August 24, 2000

WASHINGTON -- For the third time, Attorney General Janet Reno refused Wednesday to have an outside counsel investigate Vice President Al Gore over 1996 campaign fundraising.

After reviewing the transcript of an April interview with Gore by the Justice Department's campaign finance task force, Reno concluded that "further investigation is not likely to result in a prosecutable case."

"The transcript reflects neither false statements nor perjury," Reno said at her weekly news conference. "I've concluded that there is no reasonable possibility that further investigation would produce evidence to warrant charges."

But Reno made clear the task force investigation continues to look into 1996 campaign fundraising activities and the events Gore was asked about: an April 1996 event at a Buddhist temple in California and a series of White House coffees where potential contributors met Gore or President Clinton.

Republicans in Congress renewed their criticism of Reno for declining in 1997 and 1998 to have an independent counsel look into fundraising telephone calls Gore made and into whether he lied when he said he thought the money raised was for party-building rather than for the Clinton-Gore re-election.

Also in fundraising . . .

CLINTONS' LEGAL BILLS: With the help of some of the Democratic Party's biggest donors, President Clinton's legal defense fund raised more than $1-million this year. But he and Hillary Rodham Clinton still owe about $4-million in legal fees, fund officials say.

More bills are expected from Clinton's fight to keep his law license in Arkansas. The fund has raised about $8-million over 21/2 years.

Donors giving the $10,000 maximum to the fund this year include Peter Angelos, a lawyer and owner of the Baltimore Orioles; Harvey Weinstein, co-chairman of Miramax Films; Eli Broad, chairman of SunAmerica, the insurance giant; Fred Eychaner, president of Newsweb Corp.; and Lew Wasserman, chairman emeritus of Universal Studios.

The men, their wives and their companies have given $1.8-million in soft money contributions to Democratic committees since Jan. 1, 1999.

DEMOCRATIC CONCERT: The Democratic National Committee will invade Radio City Music Hall in New York next month for the sequel to a convention-ending fundraising gala that raised $5.1-million.

The Sept. 14 event includes Crosby, Stills and Nash; Jimmy Buffett; Sheryl Crow; Bon Jovi; Lenny Kravitz; Bette Midler; Macy Gray; Don Henley; and Glenn Frey. Comedian John Leguizamo will serve as master of ceremonies.

GOP yanks anti-Gore ad

WASHINGTON -- The Republican National Committee, in a last-minute reversal, Wednesday withdrew a harsh television ad that attacked Vice President Al Gore by using misleading excerpts from a 6-year-old interview.

Bowing to objections from George W. Bush's campaign and Bush advisers at the RNC, officials yanked an ad they had delivered to 350 TV stations. The ads were to begin airing today. The spot shows a stammering Gore maintaining that President Clinton has never told a lie. While the ad seems to suggest that Gore is deliberately overlooking Clinton's repeated statements denying his relationship with Monica Lewinsky, the footage comes from a Gore interview conducted in 1994, well before the president met Lewinsky.

Lewinsky job offer dropped

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- A group that wants to get women elected to the White House offered a job to Monica Lewinsky -- then quickly dropped it.

American Women Presidents, formed in March to promote the election of women as president and vice president, faxed a letter to Lewinsky's lawyer on Tuesday offering her the group's post of corporate vice president.

Hours later, the offer was rescinded.

"We received widespread concern about what the offer does for our organization's credibility," said Mosemarie Boyd, the organization's president and chief executive officer.

"Even though I still believe it's time for America to forgive Lewinsky, I don't feel it's worth risking our organization's credibility to hold out an offer to her," Boyd said.

Lewinsky's lawyer in Washington, Plato Cacheris, said he hadn't seen the group's fax and had no comment.

The job offer said the group was disturbed that Lewinsky's "life and career have been sidetracked" since her affair with President Clinton "while the lives and careers of most of the others involved in our national tragedy have remained intact."

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