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Over 70 Contributors Spent Night In Clinton White House, Study Says

By Ruth Marcus
The Washington Post
WASHINGTON

More than 75 people who contributed to or raised money for President Clinton or the Democratic Party have spent the night in the Clinton White House, according to a new study by the Center for Public Integrity.

Among the overnight guests listed by the center, which studies money and politics, were some longtime friends of President Clinton and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton.

But managing director Alex Benes said a number of others appeared to have been invited, not out of personal friendship with the Clintons, but because of their political and financial connections.

Benes said he thought the Clintons' use of the White House to entertain overnight guests was "pretty much exactly the same" as previous presidents. But, he said, "I don't think another presidential candidate made as much of a point of campaigning on the idea of ending business as usual, and this is just another example of business as usual."

The White House, the Clinton re-election campaign and the Democratic Party dismissed the report's findings. Democratic National Committee press secretary Amy Weiss Tobe said the idea that the party arranged for contributors to stay at the White House "has become an urban myth, like the alligators in the sewers of New York. It is just not true."

Ann Lewis, Clinton's deputy campaign manager, said the Clintons have invited hundreds of people to stay at the White House, both old and new friends. "Whether or not people contribute has absolutely nothing to do with whether they spend the night," she said. "I find that an outrageous accusation, without one shred of evidence."

About the center's report, she said, "How do they know that people who have given to the party are not also friends? Wouldn't it make more sense to conclude that friends and admirers of Bill Clinton who support what he's trying to achieve would, if they can, also contribute?"

The White House does not release the lists of overnight guests. Benes said the center's study was based on news reports and other sources of information.

The study, called "Fat Cat Hotel" and written by Margaret Ebrahim, found that most of the guests stayed in the historic Lincoln bedroom or Queen's bedroom. The guests included people from Hollywood, an important source of money for Clinton and the party, including actors Chevy Chase, Richard Dreyfuss, Tom Hanks and Barbra Streisand, and producers Gary David Goldberg, Sidney Sheinberg and Steven Spielberg.

The guests who were the biggest contributors included: David Geffen, co-founder of the DreamWorks SKG studio and Peter Norton, the computer whiz who created Norton Utilities.