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Fund-Raising Investigators Give 3 Witnesses Immunity

September 25, 1997|MARC LACEY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

WASHINGTON — The House committee investigating campaign fund-raising abuses granted immunity Wednesday to three Californians who made apparently illegal contributions to the Democratic National Committee, laying the groundwork for public hearings beginning next month.

The unanimous vote by members of the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee marked one instance of unity in a daylong meeting that was otherwise bitterly divided along partisan lines.

Receiving immunity from prosecution in exchange for their testimony will be Manlin Foung, the sister of Democratic fund-raiser Yah Lin "Charlie" Trie; Foung's friend Joseph Landon, and David Wang, another donor.

The three, all from Northern California, are expected to testify about Democratic contributions they made with money reimbursed to them from other sources, which is prohibited under campaign finance laws.

They are also expected to provide some insight into the improper fund-raising efforts of two of the major figures in the controversy--Trie and former DNC Vice Chairman John Huang--neither of whom has spoken to investigators.

Meanwhile, House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas) signaled that campaign finance reform legislation may come up in the House later this fall, giving a glimmer of hope to reformers that both chambers could consider new laws by the end of the year.

In suggesting that campaign finance reform might come up on the House floor, Armey was deliberately vague. "I can't tell you what the configuration will be," he said. "I can't tell you what the timing will be."

The Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, meanwhile, heard Wednesday from representatives of Common Cause and the League of Women Voters at hearings aimed at laying the groundwork for reform.

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