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Papers Say Wealthy Contra Donor Saw North as Conduit

March 30, 1987|Associated Press

WASHINGTON — At least one wealthy contributor who gave money to a private contra aid effort believed Lt. Col. Oliver L. North, then a National Security Council aide, was controlling how the funds were spent, documents show.

A note from the contributor to an employee of conservative fund-raiser Carl (Spitz) Channell included a $100,000 check and said: "Please have Ollie contact me to let me know what he's going to do with it."

The note, dated May 27, 1986, was among documents obtained from Channell's offices by Jane McLaughlin, who worked as a fund-raiser for Channell.

More Active Role Seen

The documents, which McLaughlin has turned over to the independent counsel investigating the Iran-contra affair, were reviewed by the Associated Press. They indicate a more active role by North in Channell's operation than previously acknowledged by Channell, whose activities are under scrutiny by the independent counsel.

McLaughlin would not comment about the documents.

Channell has maintained that North did not raise or control money for his operations, which included a $1-million pro-contra TV campaign, a contra speakers program and humanitarian aid contributions estimated at $3 million throughout the two-year congressional ban on U.S. military aid to the rebels in Nicaragua.

Bruce Hooper of Philadelphia, the contributor who asked that North telephone him, acknowledged sending McLaughlin the note with a $100,000 check.

Hooper declined in a telephone interview to elaborate on the note or on his understanding of Channell's relationship with North other than to say: "I had a sense that . . . they were cooperating between each other about those funds."

Channell's spokesman, Jared Cameron, denied that North controlled the money or played a significant role in Channell's efforts. He said that North was a "source" of information for Channell because both men were working for President Reagan's policy of supporting the contras.

He has said Channell and North met up to 14 times, always at the White House, when North was giving presentations to Channell contributors about the situation in Central America.

Personal Meetings Cited

However, the documents show that North also met individually with contributors and wrote letters to thank them and encourage support.

North was fired from his NSC job last November for his role in the secret U.S. arms sales to Iran and the alleged diversion of profits to the contras.

The presidential commission that investigated the Iran-contra matter found that North was deeply involved both in raising private funds for the contras and in getting weapons to them during the congressional ban.

The McLaughlin documents also indicate that Channell and his staff solicited the wealthy by citing close ties with the President and by inviting groups of 10 or 15 contributors to White House briefings sometimes attended by Reagan.

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