Commerce Department Can’t Explain Having List Of Demo Donors

SUNDAY, JUNE 1, 1997

Officials at the Commerce Department, which has been accused of rewarding big campaign contributors with seats on trade missions, do not know why a list of Democratic donors was at the department, a spokeswoman said Saturday.

The list was considered a “personal document, not a Commerce document,” spokeswoman Maria Cardona said Saturday.

In a deposition taken Wednesday, Deputy Assistant Secretary Graham Whatley said a list of 139 contributors to the Democratic National Committee - including bankers, union officials and corporate executives - was kept in the department’s files, said Larry Klayman, director of Judicial Watch.

The conservative group has filed a lawsuit over the issue and took the deposition. Commerce officials previously had denied that such a list existed, Klayman said.

“They denied everything and said there was nothing to Judicial Watch’s claims, but this is the icing on the cake,” he said.

In its lawsuit, Judicial Watch has accused the Clinton administration of attracting political money by allowing donors contributing as much as $100,000 to go along on official trade missions.

The Washington times reported in its Saturday editions that a preliminary review showed at least five people on the list of 139 attended a trade mission to South Africa with the late Commerce Secretary Ron Brown in November 1993.

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