House panel OKs bill requiring library donor disclosure

Names and amounts would be made public

May 18, 2001|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

WASHINGTON - A House committee approved a measure yesterday that would require presidential libraries to publicly disclose the names of donors and the amounts of their contributions.

The measure was proposed after a Congressional investigation into whether contributions to Bill Clinton's presidential library were linked to last-minute pardons he granted, most notably to fugitive commodities trader Marc Rich.

Rich's former wife, Denise, who pressed for his pardon, gave $450,000 to the Clinton library foundation, and her friend Beth Dozoretz, a Democratic Party fund-raiser who also lobbied for the pardon, pledged to raise $1 million for the project.

The measure, which House Committee on Government Reform approved unanimously, requires presidential library boards to disclose the names and occupations of donors who contribute $200 or more a year, as well as the amount they contributed.

A version of the measure was introduced more than a year ago by Rep. John J. Duncan Jr., a Tennessee Republican. It languished until this year when Congress began investigating a series of controversial pardons that Clinton issued during his final days in office.

The measure adopted yesterday was an amended version of one that had been approved earlier this month by a subcommittee of the Government Reform Committee. That measure would have required disclosure of the names and occupations of donors of $5,000 or more a year.

The reporting threshold was lowered to $200 or more annually, partly at the insistence of one of the ranking Democrats on the committee, Rep. Janice D. Schakowsky of Illinois.

The panel's chairman, Indiana Rep. Dan Burton, a Republican who led the inquiry into the Clinton pardons, said the measure would help prevent similar episodes. His office said that the measure could be taken up by the full House in the next few months.

The final measure included a provision to raise the reporting threshold to $5,000 a year when a presidential library foundation is turned over to the National Archives. The measure also would make it illegal for anyone to funnel contributions to a presidential foundation through a third party.

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