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GOP Investigators Say Former DNC Leader Violated Policy

By Marc Lacey
Los Angeles Times
WASHINGTON

Senate investigators intend to present evidence Tuesday that former Democratic Chairman Donald L. Fowler flouted an internal Democratic National Committee policy when he repeatedly lobbied federal agencies on behalf of major contributors.

The roster of donors represented by Fowler includes American Indian tribes, a controversial oil financier and a Southern California businessman dismissed by a White House aide as "a hustler."

Fowler, who is to appear as a witness at Tuesday's Senate hearings on campaign fund-raising abuses, contacted officials in the White House, the Interior Department, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Energy Department and a handful of other agencies to assist key contributors, investigators said.

His advocacy - or "selling of influence," as GOP investigators call it - ran counter to an internal policy prepared by General Counsel Joseph Sandler that forbade "any DNC staff" from "ever contact(ing) an administration official on behalf of a donor for any reason."

Investigators said that Fowler helped oilman Roger Tamraz attend White House functions after receiving "a very strong warning" from an aide that Tamraz could prove to be an embarrassment to the Democrats.

National Security Council aides had objected to the White House visits by Tamraz, who was pushing an oil pipeline project near the Caspian Sea that administration officials opposed. Critics say that Tamraz used his donations to the Democrats - at least $177,000 - to sidestep White House officials who opposed his project and pitch the venture directly to the president.

Fowler also assisted Johnny Chien Chuen Chung - a major donor who ran a fax machine business in Torrance, Calif. - in setting up a meeting between former Energy Secretary Hazel O'Leary and a businessman from China, investigators said. A National Security Council aide had described Chung in a 1995 memo as "a hustler" trying to exploit his contacts with the White House.