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White House Offers Campaign Tapes Didn’t Find Anything ‘All That Interesting,’ Says Spokesman

Fri., Nov. 21, 1997

The White House on Thursday released tapes of 24 political events attended by President Clinton and Vice President Gore during their 1996 re-election campaign, all but two of them campaign fund-raisers.

Unlike tapes submitted earlier to the committee, none of the events took place in the White House, and the vast majority were overtly campaign fund-raisers where there was no question of wrongdoing by Clinton or Gore in asking for money.

“We didn’t find anything that was all that interesting,” said Paul Clark, spokesman for the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, which had subpoenaed the tapes. The committee has now received tapes of 238 events featuring Clinton, Gore or both.

Included in the tapes was one from a July 13, 1995, fund-raiser at the Maryland home of Tom Schneider, partner of the chief lobbyist for a group of Indian tribes who were trying to block plans by rival tribes to open a casino in Hudson, Wis. The Interior Department rejected the casino plan the day after the fund-raiser.

White House special counsel Lanny J. Davis said the administration regarded only two of the tapes as “directly responsive” to the committee’s subpoena: a Dec. 8, 1996, Mayflower Hotel event attended by businessman Roger Tamraz; and a May 16, 1996, Sheraton Washington Hotel banquet that may show a fleeting glimpse of Yah Lin “Charlie” Trie. Tamraz and Trie are key figures in the administration’s 1996 fund-raising scandals.

Davis said the White House submitted the other 22 tapes “in a spirit of cooperation” but withheld 43 others, because “they were not about fund-raising.” Before releasing further tapes, he added, the White House wanted to establish “reasonable limits” on compliance, not engage in “an open-ended fishing expedition.”

Clark said, “We’re going to work with the White House to get copies of those tapes we need.” Davis said the withheld tapes described state Democratic Party and congressional fundraisers, policy-oriented briefings for donors and miscellaneous events unrelated to fund-raising. None of the events takes place in the White House.


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