While President Clinton defended use of the Lincoln Bedroom by big Democratic donors, a half-dozen Republican House members backed legislation Wednesday to ban the practice.
A bill by Rep. Jon Fox, R-Pa., would prohibit using the White House and other executive branch buildings to reward political contributors.
“This legislation is rent control for the rich and famous,” Rep. Wally Herger, R-Calif., said at a news conference.
The president said the vast majority of the overnight guests at the White House were personal friends, but at a news conference called invitations to donors “legal” and “entirely appropriate.”
Fox introduced his bill Feb. 6, but called attention to it Wednesday following the release of documents Tuesday showing that Clinton approved a plan to use the White House to reward large Democratic givers.
It is already illegal to solicit campaign funds in the White House.
Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind., said it also should be illegal to offer presidential hospitality as an “inducement” to give large sums of money.
Burton, chairman of the House panel investigating a wide array of Democratic fund-raising, the probe is “unfortunately getting bigger and broader … every day.”
Democratic officials said that additional documents about party fund-raising have yet to be given to Burton’s committee because they contain proprietary financial information. A lawyer for the Democratic National Committee said the documents would be handed over once House investigators agree to confidentiality.
Burton also said he met Wednesday with FBI Director Louis Freeh, but declined to discuss the substance of their meeting, which Burton said he requested.
The Justice Department is conducting its own investigation of possible fund-raising improprieties. Burton said last weekend he was upset by reports that the Justice Department, which includes the FBI, was providing the White House with information about the investigation, particularly concerning contributions from Chinese nationals.
Burton said his 13 investigators have been overwhelmed by the volume of work, adding hearings would probably not be held until April or May.
Subpoenas issued to three former administration officials and a top fund raiser have so far produced none of the requested documents, Burton said.
But, he added, he expects to receive some documents from former Clinton aide Mark Middleton.
More subpoenas may go out next week, Burton said, declining to identify the recipients.