November 27, 1996 in Nation/World

Democrats Hire Lawyers For Probe Firm To Help Field Questions, Review Screening In Fund Raising

Associated Press

The Democratic National Committee has retained a law firm to help field questions from federal investigators about its fund raising.

Attorneys from Debevoise & Plimpton, a New York City firm with a Washington office, also will help the committee improve its system for screening contributions, DNC Chairman Don Fowler aid in a statement Tuesday.

The Justice Department has formed a task force to investigate allegations of questionable fund raising by both parties. Meanwhile, several Republican members of Congress are pressing for an independent counsel investigation of the Democrats and planning their own congressional inquiries.

In addition, the Democrats asked the Federal Election Commission to look into possible violations of election law by DNC fund-raisers after the allegations became public last fall.

“We at the DNC are absolutely determined to correct any mistakes that have been made and to ensure that they are not repeated,” Fowler said.

Since September, the DNC has returned almost $1.5 million in contributions raised this year either from foreign donors, who cannot legally give, or from other sources deemed inappropriate.

Most of the refunded money - $1.27 million - was raised by John Huang, a former Commerce Department official. Fowler said Huang was hired by the DNC to solicit from Asian-Americans, but some of the money he raised came from overseas.

The law firm’s tasks will include “preserving and producing relevant documents and preparing timely and complete responses to inquiries from applicable agencies,” Fowler said.

The Democratic committee also has hired the accounting firm of Ernst & Young to help review other questionable contributions, Fowler said.

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