Clinton acts to end campaign funds scandal
Friday 24 January 1997
The first step has come from the President, within barely 24 hours of his inauguration for a second term and at almost the same moment that a mortified Congress voted to reprimand Newt Gingrich and fine him $300,000 (pounds 180,000) for lying over his allegedly improper use of tax-exempt money.
Still smarting from the furore over the millions of dollars which flowed into his own Democratic Party's coffers from dubious sources last year, Mr Clinton announced a ban on contributions from foreign citizens and corporations, including their US subsidiaries, a $100,000 cap on individual donations and close scrutiny of all contributions over $5,000.
Thus the party hopes to avoid repeats of such 1996 embarrassments as Vice-President Al Gore's participation at a $5,000-a-monk fundraiser at a Buddhist temple in Los Angeles, the $1.5m gratefully accepted by the Democratic National Committee from questionable Indonesian and other Asian sources (only to be shamefacedly returned) and red carpet White House treatment for major benefactors, a couple of whom at least, it later transpired, faced criminal charges.
The embarrassment did not end with election victory: although Janet Reno, the Attorney General, has resisted demands to appoint yet another independent counsel to explore possible White House wrongdoing, Republicans have lined up a battery of Congressional hearings into allegations of corruption. Thus "Indo-gate" bodes fair to join Whitewater, the purloined FBI personnel files and the White House travel office firings among real or imagined Clinton scandals.
But the presidential bid to reclaim the high ground on the issue may prove as cosmetic, and as futile as every other recent attempt to break the addict-like dependency of American politics on money.
It may true, as Roy Romer, the Colorado Governor and new general chairman of the Democratic party, maintains, that the new rules would have cost the DNC $6.5m had they been in effect last year. But that is a drop in the bucket of the stupefying $1.6bn (pounds 1bn) spent on the 1996 presidential and congressional elections.
Another problem is "soft money," the contributions theoretically destined for party organisations which are then channelled into individual campaigns. They generated about $100m for Republicans and Democrats alike in the last campaign. On Tuesday Mr Clinton urged the elimination of "soft money". But Republicans say they will only agree if their opponents forgo the financial help they receive from trade unions, which the Democrats are unlikely to accept.
A bill sponsored by Republican Senator John McCain and his Democratic colleague Russ Feingold of Wisconsin suggests that candidates accept "voluntary" ceilings on campaign spending, with sanctions if they exceed the limit. However, a recent Supreme Court ruling broadly upholds the view that curbs on campaign spending infringe the free speech rights of the First Amendment of the US constitution.
- 1 BBC told new political editor must be 'impartial' with Nick Robinson reportedly stepping down
- 2 Humans of New York image of crying gay teen receives best response yet from Ellen DeGeneres
- 3 Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
- 4 Motorists taunt suicidal woman on bridge and tell her to 'get on with it'
- 5 The map showing the most dangerous tourist destinations in Europe, according to the Foreign Office
BBC told new political editor must be 'impartial' with Nick Robinson reportedly stepping down
Isis propaganda video shows 25 Syrian soldiers executed by teenage militants in Palmyra
Humans of New York image of crying gay teen receives best response yet from Ellen DeGeneres
Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
The map showing the most dangerous tourist destinations in Europe, according to the Foreign Office
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture
£7 - £10 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This care provider is looking for Home ...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading web des...
£27000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A growing, successful, friendly...
£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family owned, independent ...