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House Panel to Get Clinton Library Donor List

March 01, 2001|RICHARD A. SERRANO and STEPHEN BRAUN | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

WASHINGTON — Congressional investigators will review the names of large donors to former President Clinton's library foundation under an agreement reached Wednesday between a House committee and Clinton's attorney.

The agreement, coming after the foundation first balked at turning over documents listing donors of $5,000 or more, means that staff lawyers for the House Government Reform Committee will begin examining the records Friday.

The compromise was reached at the end of a half-hour meeting among committee Chairman Dan Burton (R-Ind.), Rep. Henry A. Waxman of Los Angeles, the panel's ranking Democrat, and David E. Kendall, the former president's lawyer.

Burton said he was pleased with the agreement, which allows his staff lawyers to review the list of significant donors and the dates and amounts of their contributions. He said it also means that the head of the foundation, Skip Rutherford, will not need to testify when the panel meets for a daylong hearing today.

The compromise also represents a partial victory for Clinton, because he strongly opposed the committee's subpoena of the foundation's complete financial records.

The panel is hunting for any link between $450,000 in library donations from Denise Rich and a pardon that Clinton granted her ex-husband, commodities broker and fugitive Marc Rich.

In another development Wednesday, Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) wrote a letter to Clinton suggesting that they meet to discuss whether the former president would openly discuss his clemencies and perhaps testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Specter has expanded the Senate's review of the Rich pardon to include an inquiry into other clemencies, such as Clinton's commutation for convicted Los Angeles drug dealer Carlos Vignali and a pardon for herbal marketeer Almon Glenn Braswell.

But the senator also has been careful not to commit the full Judiciary Committee to the investigation, and congressional sources said that is why he sent the letter under his own letterhead.

However, the sources said he did have the backing of Senate Judiciary Chairman Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah).

Clinton's office was not immediately sure how to react to the letter, with one official saying, "It's not clear from the senator's letter if he is speaking for himself or the committee or what."

On Jan. 20, his last day in office, Clinton granted 177 pardons and commutations. Some have become controversial because of the roles played by some individuals, including former White House counsel Jack Quinn and Clinton's brother-in-law, Hugh Rodham, in seeking them.

The hearing today will focus on the role of four top Clinton White House officials and what they remember of the pardons and commutations in the last days of the Clinton presidency.

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