The number of fund-raising calls made by Vice President Al Gore grew even higher Tuesday as newly available documents showed that Gore telephoned more than 75 donors in 1995 and ‘96 to encourage them to support the Democratic Party.
The records, which were provided to Senate investigators in recent weeks, increase by several dozen the number of telephone pitches made from Gore’s White House office.
They also show that the Democratic National Committee, at Gore’s urging, reimbursed the federal treasury earlier this year for $24.20 to cover the cost of 20 fund-raising calls that were not charged to a campaign credit card account.
The documents also link former White House counsel Jack Quinn to the controversy. While Quinn was Gore’s chief of staff, he telephoned at least two dozen donors in 1995, apparently from his White House office.
Quinn’s predecessor as White House counsel, Abner J. Mikva, issued a memo in 1995 warning that “no fund-raising phone calls or mail may emanate from the White House or any other federal building.”
Mikva’s memo was an interpretation of the Hatch Act, which White House officials contend does not apply to Clinton or Gore, a point on which various legal experts disagree. The law’s fund-raising ban would, however, apply to Quinn.
Quinn, now in private practice, said in a statement that he was making thank-you calls to supporters, not fund-raising solicitations.
“Under the applicable federal regulations, it is perfectly permissible to express thanks, as I did, to political supporters for their efforts,” Quinn said.
The call sheets he used were prepared by the DNC, however, and noted the amount each call recipient had pledged to raise or contribute.
The new documents prompted criticism from GOP Senate investigators, who have been frustrated by the White House’s piecemeal production of records. The Senate Governmental Affairs Committee will reconvene its hearings early next month, with Gore’s calls one topic on the agenda.
“The number of calls keeps going up,” said Paul Clark, spokesman for the Senate probe. “It started as a few calls. Now it’s approaching 100 calls and some of those were at taxpayer expense. We can’t seem to get a straight answer. The question is what we still don’t know. It’s beginning to look like a potential cover-up.”
However, Ginny Terzano, Gore’s press secretary, insisted that the vice president has been up front about the matter ever since the controversy over his calling habits broke out in March. The latest numbers, she said, came from recently gathered documents that do not contradict Gore’s earlier statements that he had acted within the law.
At a March news conference, Gore repeatedly asserted there was “no controlling legal authority” that prohibited him or the president from making solicitations on federal property. At the time, Gore said he made fund-raising calls “on a few occasions” from his West Wing office in December 1995 and the spring of 1996.
The White House subsequently said he made as many as 50 calls to at least 38 different donors.
The new figures include 46 direct fund-raising pitches by Gore between Nov. 28, 1995 and May 2, 1996. In 10 other cases, he tried to reach donors but did not get through.
In addition, Gore placed as many as 37 other calls that a White House official described as expressions of appreciation to people who had committed to raise money for the ticket.
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