Cash pours in to White House defence fund

THE PRESIDENT may have many worries at the moment, but money should not be one of them. There has been a surge of contributions to the legal defence fund that was set up for him in February and it now stands at about $2m.

A trust had been set up four years ago to pay the President's legal fees, but it had become entangled in complicated legal issues and was paying out more to handle its own problems than it was bringing in.

It was dissolved last year, leaving the President and his team concerned that they would run up vast bills with little hope of ever paying them off. It had raised only $1.3m.

The new fund permits direct solicitations and gifts of up to $10,000.

The old fund limited contributions to $1,000. Most of the money has come from a direct mail campaign, which apparently fell upon fertile soil.

Sympathy for the President's position has increased as the Starr investigation has focused increasingly upon sex rather than money, the previous target of the inquiry.

"If you are disturbed by the way politics is conducted today," the direct mail flyer read, "then what better response than to make your own gesture of decency and generosity."

Among those who have contributed has been the millionaire David Geffen, who gave $10,000.

"I would have given more, but they didn't want any more," Mr Geffen told the New York Times.

More than 800 people have contributed "from Main Street, Wall Street and Hollywood", said a supporter. Barbra Streisand, Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg and Gail Zappa, Frank Zappa's widow, also contributed.

But even $2m is only a fraction of the estimated $6m cost of the Clintons' legal bills, which could eventually mount to as much as $10m.