Memos portray Clinton 'coffees' as fund-raisers Papers show White House kept close tabs on donations

March 23, 1997|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

WASHINGTON -- Despite White House efforts to portray the coffees at which President Clinton played host last year as something short of overt fund-raisers, new documents show explicitly that the White House kept close tabs on how much money was anticipated and how much was raised at each gathering.

The documents turned over to Congress by the White House's former senior political aide show that coffees that the president held at the White House in 1996 had systematic fund-raising targets associated with them, often of $400,000 a session.

One of the documents -- a memo from Harold Ickes, the former White House deputy chief of staff, to senior officials of the Democratic National Committee -- also shows that there was a plan on Nov. 12, 1995, to have the president make 18 to 20 calls to raise money personally and the vice president make 10 calls in hopes of raising $1.2 million in the final weeks of the year.

The memo does not make clear whether the president and vice president actually made the calls.

The dozens of previously undisclosed documents give further insight into how the White House political operation, in conjunction with the Democratic National Committee, was using the coffees led by Clinton in the White House Map Room and by Gore in his ceremonial office in the Old Executive Office Building to bring in millions of dollars for Democratic campaigns.

While acknowledging that many guests were donors or potential donors, the White House has said repeatedly that money was not solicited at the coffee sessions, nor were particular dollar targets set for someone to attend.

But time and again, monthly schedules of events for the president show that coffees had precise projected revenue attached to them. One January 1996 schedule of events, for example, shows three coffee sessions with the president were each projected to raise $400,000.

The documents also track how much of the money had been raised to date, and they make no distinction between the coffees and traditional fund-raising dinners, which also are listed with budgeted revenue projections.

An April 25, 1996, memorandum shows that the president and vice president were forwarded the April fund-raising schedule, suggesting that they were being kept abreast of each month's fund-raising efforts.

Lanny Davis, the White House spokesman on campaign finance matters, issued a statement yesterday saying that while the coffees were intended to generate support, "First, no solicitations for funds were made at these White House events. And second, as far as our policies were concerned, there was no requirement to make a contribution in order to attend these events."

Pub Date: 3/23/97

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