Nice Al Gore a `money-raising bulldozer'

Vice-President Al Gore has been sucked into the vortex of the great Democratic fundraising scandal, with a highly detailed report in yesterday's Washington Post that portrays him as the cold-blooded "solicitor-in-chief" of money to finance the party's 1996 election campaign.

"Revolting" was the description by one donor of Mr Gore's modus operandi, after he had been pressured by the vice-president, who told him he had been given the job by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) of raising $2m (pounds 1.2m) in a single week. "You're on my list," Mr Gore told his prey, who eventually came up with a cheque for $100,000.

Another donor, whose business often involved dealings with the federal government, described the process as "like a shake-down" and "very awkward," coming as it did from a vice-president with unusual influence inside the Administration. In a third case, a Texas telecommunications firm was pressed into giving $100,000 to the Democrats, after help from the Administration in winning a $36m order from Mexico. Mr Gore personally called to thank its chief executive.

In all, according to the Post, Mr Gore and his aides were directly involved in raising $40m of the $180m gathered by the(DNC) in 1995 and 1996 - most of it so-called "soft money", subject to no limits, which theoretically goes to help the party organisation, and not specific candidates.

The allegations, coming after the fuss over overnights at the Lincoln Bedroom in the White House, and announcement by the DNC that it was returning a further $1.5m of tainted donations, are a further embarrassment for the party, which this weekend also released a 1995 memo detailing how access to President Clinton, in the shape of trips on Air Force One, golf games, White House coffee sessions and the like should be parlayed into extra money for its coffers. But they are also a setback for the unconcealed political ambitions of Mr Gore.

Despite his much-mocked attendance at a fundraiser at a Los Angeles Buddhist temple last April, Mr Gore has managed to project himself as clean-handed statesman while shameless money-grubbing ran amok around him. Mr Clinton might be tacky and loose-principled, the conventional wisdom ran - but not his vice-president, upright to the point of woodenness.

That impression must now be revised. If the Post report's author - Bob Woodward of Watergate fame - is to be believed, Mr Gore was a money-raising bulldozer, extracting contributions with a heavyhandedness bordering on crudity.

The legality or otherwise of what he did will technically hinge on whether as second- ranking figure in the executive branch, he mixed fundraising with government business. Certainly no vice-president, Democrat or Republican, has ever played so extensive and frontal a role in his party's fundraising - and as Mr Gore limbers up for a White House run of his own in 2000, his prowess may prove a two-edged sword.

If disgust at the way sordid fashion politics is financed in the US takes real hold, and if either Congress or an independent counsel take serious aim at the issue, then Mr Gore's coast-to-coast fundraising network could be less blessing than curse.

For almost the first time in Washington's image wars, Mr Gore has come out a loser.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: 3rd Line Virtualisation, Windows & Server Engineer

£40000 - £47000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A 3rd Line Virtualisation / Sto...

Recruitment Genius: Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Service Engineer

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A successful national service f...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Sales - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Fixed Term Contract

£17500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently require an experie...

Day In a Page

Syria civil war: Meet the military commander who says his soldiers will not rest until every inch of their war torn country is free of Islamist 'terrorists'

‘We won’t stop until Syria is back to normal’

Near the front lines with Islamist-controlled towns where Assad’s troops were besieged just last month, Robert Fisk meets a commander confidently preparing his soldiers for battle
Fifa corruption: Strip Qatar of the World Cup? Not likely

Strip Qatar of the World Cup? Not likely

But if a real smoking gun is found, that might change things, says Tom Peck
Twenty two years later Jurassic Park series faces questions over accuracy of the fictional dinosaurs in it

Tyrannosaurus wrecked?

Twenty two years on, Jurassic Park faces questions over accuracy
The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation may undermine Hillary's chances

The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation...

... and how it may undermine Hillary's chances in 2016
Genes greatly influence when and how many babies a woman will have, study finds

Mother’s genes play key role in decision to start a family

Study's findings suggest that human fertility is still evolving
12 best olive oils

Extra-virgin, cold-press, early-harvest, ultra-premium: 12 best olive oils

Choosing an olive oil is a surprising minefield. Save yourself the hassle with our handy guide
Rafa Benitez Real Madrid unveiling: New manager full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

Benitez full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

There were tears in the former Liverpool manager’s eyes as he was unveiled as Real Madrid coach. But the Spaniard knows he must make tough decisions if he is to succeed
England can win the Ashes – and Elvis Presley will present the urn

England can win the Ashes – and Elvis will present the urn

In their last five Test, they have lost two and drawn two and defeated an India side last summer who thought that turning up was competing, says Stephen Brenkley
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)