Archive for Saturday, September 23, 2000

Lincoln Bedroom debate reawakened

White House releases new list of overnight guests

September 23, 2000

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— President Clinton and his wife, Hillary, hosted 404 overnight guests at the White House or Camp David over the last 14 months, the White House said Friday. Collectively they gave $624,000 to the first lady's Senate campaign, according to an analysis by a watchdog group.

The guest list was released in the face of accusations that Mrs. Clinton rewarded donors with sleepovers since she began her Senate campaign. Roughly one in four of the guests contributed to her race, aides said.

"There's certainly no basis for believing that they are anything other than what they are, which is friends and supporters," Mrs. Clinton said while campaigning in Greenburgh, N.Y."There just really isn't any reason for anybody to raise any questions about it."

Republican Rep. Rick Lazio, Mrs. Clinton's rival, said the accounting was "absolutely insufficient" because it did not specify when guests stayed, or whether they were at the White House or Camp David.

Lazio said the White House was trying to "obfuscate finding out whether or not people were seeking or offered the opportunity to stay at a military installation or at government property in return for campaign favors."

A preliminary analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan watchdog group, said that 98 of the guests gave a combined $108,000 directly to Mrs. Clinton's Senate committee and an additional $516,000 to affiliated committees operating on her behalf.

About 40 percent of the guests 146 in all have been active contributors this election cycle, the center said. They gave a combined $5.5 million in campaign contributions, of which 98 percent went to the Democratic Party or Democratic candidates. Some $122,000 went to Republicans.

The guests, more than one a day on average, included Hollywood celebrities, political leaders, donors, Arkansas friends and others.

The list named 361 sleepover guests but omitted the names of 43 other people who are family or friends of Chelsea Clinton.

The guest list included former Slim-Fast head S. Daniel Abraham, who has given $993,000 to Democratic Party committees since Jan. 1, 1999 more than any other individual donor and $20,000 to Clinton's legal defense fund. Also, filmmaker Steven Spielberg, who has given $140,000 to the Democratic National Committee, $7,000 to New York Senate 2000 and $10,000 to the president's legal defense fund.

Atty. Gen. Janet Reno, asked about the sleepovers, said, "It is their private residence, but they have also said that this is the people's house. You've just got to look at the particular facts. If the president of the United States wants to invite somebody to stay at his what is, in effect, his home for a four-year period or an eight-year period he ought to be able to do it."

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