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Clinton Attends ‘Soft Money’ Fund-Raiser Amid Financing Flap

Amid an ongoing flap over campaign financing, President Clinton traveled to New York for an exclusive fund-raising bash Tuesday that welcomed the sort of “soft money” donations that he has offered to forgo if Republicans do the same.

The event, expected to net more than $1 million, was sponsored by the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee. It was held in a private Manhattan home for a well-heeled crowd of about 120, who offered contributions of $10,000 for candidates or $25,000 in unspecified “soft money” support.

Although the president has pledged that the Democratic Party would join with Republicans in eschewing soft money, Democrats have argued that to take the step alone would amount to “unilateral disarmament” in the big-money war that is largely played out in expensive advertising. The Republican Senate Campaign Committee vastly outspent its Democratic counterpart last year.

Even so, critics Tuesday seized on Clinton’s continued participation in such events as evidence that he is not committed to reforming the campaign finance system. A soft-money fund-raiser “fuels public cynicism” over the whole campaign finance system, argued Bill Hogan, an official with the Center for Public Integrity, a nonpartisan watchdog group in Washington.

White House press secretary Mike McCurry said he strongly disagreed, and maintained the need for fund-raising would continue - although with tighter restrictions - under proposed reforms backed by Clinton that are pending in Congress. Campaigns “would be privately funded, therefore there will be fund-raisers,” McCurry said.

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