Big Donor To Democrats Got 26 White House Visits Documents Raise New Questions About Presidential Access, Foreign Connections
An Asian-American business consultant, who was a major Democratic Party donor, visited the White House at least 26 times and arranged for Thai executives to attend a party coffee at the executive mansion, documents show.
Released by the White House on Thursday, the documents raised fresh questions about access that contributors with foreign connections had to President Clinton and his aides.
White House special counsel Lanny Davis said it was “not uncommon in this or in previous administrations for supporters and interested parties to attend briefings and other events at the White House to meet with the president and others.”
Davis said President Clinton “spoke on issues” at events for party supporters, adding:
“To the best of our knowledge no funds were solicited by anyone in the White House at White House events. No governmental action resulted from any campaign contribution to the president’s campaign or to the DNC.”
The business consultant is Pauline Kanchanalak, who helped set up the U.S.-Thai Business Council to promote private-sector cooperation between the United States and Thailand.
The Democratic National Committee returned $253,500 from Kanchanalak, after it learned the money came from her mother-in-law. The money included $135,000 solicited this year by Democratic fund-raiser John Huang, a central figure in the controversy over foreign-linked contributions and other questionable fund raising for the 1996 election.
The documents released by Davis showed that Kanchanalak was invited to the White House 33 times from Jan. 20, 1993, when Clinton took office, through Nov. 30. She showed up 26 times.
Her appearances included ceremonial events, meetings on U.S.-Thai business relations and Democratic National Committee sessions. Fifteen of her invitations and 10 actual visits involved presidential events; two invitations - both actual visits - involved events with Vice President Al Gore.
The most controversial visit was a June 18 Democratic National Committee coffee, to which she invited five guests. Two were officials of the U.S.-Thai Business Council and the three others were executives with a Thai company, the C.P. Group of Bangkok.
Davis said he could not comment on the appropriateness of inviting foreign executives to a meeting for Democratic National Committee supporters. He said he did not know whether the company had U.S. subsidiaries.
C.P. Group has joint ventures with NYNEX, a global communications company, and Ford Motor Co., Davis said.
President Clinton acknowledged this month that it was inappropriate for a Chinese government weapons dealer, whose company later was implicated in arms smuggling into the United States, to attend a February reception at the White House. An Asian-American contributor to the DNC arranged the invitation.
U.S. subsidiaries of foreign companies are allowed to make donations if the income was earned in this country.
Records show that Kanchanalak was one of several Asian-Americans who made large contributions to the DNC a few days after telephoning Huang when he was a senior Commerce Department official in 1994 and 1995.
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