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.
Liam Neeson's Downton dreams
Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage
Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour
- 2 Scottish referendum results: David Cameron set to unveil major devolution of powers to England
- 3 iOS 8 is full of shiny new features - but it's terrible news for app developers
- 4 Scottish independence: Tory revolt against 'devo max' grows as Rail Minister Claire Perry joins
- 5 Hitler’s former food taster reveals the horrors of the Wolf’s Lair
Scottish independence results live: Reunited kingdom - Scotland gives a clear 'No' in historic referendum
Scottish referendum results: David Cameron set to unveil major devolution of powers to England
Iranian blogger found guilty of insulting Prophet Mohammad on Facebook sentenced to death
Scottish independence: YouGov final prediction puts No campaign 8 points ahead - but Yes team remains optimistic
Scottish independence: Tory revolt against 'devo max' grows as Rail Minister Claire Perry joins
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter
Scottish independence: The Queen breaks silence on referendum debate – as think tank warns of £14bn black hole if Scotland votes Yes
Portuguese academic says British are 'filthy, violent and drunk'
£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Nursery assistants re...
£120 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you a qualified teache...
£50 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you an SEN Teacher or L...
£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: English & Media Teacher - ...