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'Bull****': Gore and Other Administration Policy Makers Systematically Ignore Evidence of Corruption of their 'Partners'

From: Members of the Speaker's Advisory Group on Russia, United States House of Representatives 106th Congress

The truth about corruption is difficult to hear and difficult to speak. But once the truth is spoken and heard and known, the truth itself acquires a power that can transform nations and our world.

Vice President Al Gore, February 26, 1999

There have been a lot of charges and innuendo [about Viktor Chernomyrdin] but there has been no proof, no smoking gun, and certainly no indictment in a Russian court.

Leon Fuerth (Al Gore's National Security Adviser), as quoted in the Washington Post, July 27, 2000

Facts are stubborn things.

President Ronald Reagan, August 15, 1988

 

 The 1995 CIA Report

In 1995, CIA officials dispatched to the White House a secret report based upon the agency's large dossier documenting the corrupt practices of then-Russian Prime Minister Viktor Stepanovich Chernomyrdin, who with Vice President Gore co-chaired the Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission. The private assets that Chernomyrdin had accumulated in his official position, according to Russian security sources, ran into the billions of dollars.1 When the confidential classified report on Chernomyrdin reached Vice President Gore, however, he refused to accept it. Instead, he sent it back to the CIA with the word "BULL****" scrawled across it.2

When the New York Times first reported these grotesque facts, White House and CIA officials denied that the report existed. The National Journal, however, reported approximately six months later that it had independently confirmed the Times account.3 A few months later still, the Washington Post wrote that CIA sources, "had it that the report came back with 'bull----!' scrawled in the vice president's handwriting."4

It is difficult to imagine a more dangerously intemperate reaction by the vice president to official corruption in Russia. Yet this was hardly an isolated incident. The administration had ignored repeated earlier warnings of corruption by Chernomyrdin and other senior Russian officials. Several senior Clinton administration officials have confirmed that they had received a number of reports from the CIA alleging corruption by Chernomyrdin, and that the CIA had submitted many other reports alleging corruption among other senior Russian leaders, including Anatoly B. Chubais.5 "My review of CIA's published material persuades me that it has reported to its readership persuasively and in depth that crime and corruption are pervasive problems in Russia," said a CIA ombudsman tasked with investigating the CIA's work after the first New York Times article about the vice president's "barnyard epithet" appeared.6

It is therefore clear that the vice president rejected not an initial report unsupported by other evidence, but rather a detailed report built on extensive earlier work by the CIA of which Gore must have been aware. Moreover, the allegations against Chernomyrdin were made in the context of numerous charges against other senior Russian leaders--suggesting widespread corruption at the top levels of the Russian government.

Gore's close personal relationship to Viktor Chernomyrdin--and not any superior intelligence that he possessed as Vice President--was therefore obviously decisive in his emotional dismissal of the CIA intelligence report of Chernomyrdin's corruption. At the same time that he was receiving reports of Chernomyrdin's corruption and the growing anger of the Russian people over the power of the oligarchs, the vice president was effusive in his public comments about Chernomyrdin. In June 1995, as they stood together in Moscow, he displayed his lack of objectivity. "Friends have a right to be proud of friends," Gore proclaimed. He added: "The longer one works with [Chernomyrdin], the deeper one's respect grows for his ability to get things done."7

Chernomyrdin Allegations--No Secret

The Clinton-Gore administration's knee-jerk dismissal of top-secret corruption allegations against Viktor Chernomyrdin was all the more remarkable taking into account the extensive information available in open sources, including the Russian and U.S. media.

For example, in the summer of 1995 a respected U.S. analyst of Russian affairs wrote a comprehensive article in the Washington Post detailing wide-ranging charges against the Russian prime minister.8 Peter Reddaway, a political science professor at George Washington University and former director of the Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies, cited accusations by Boris Fyodorov, who had served as Russia's Deputy Prime Minister for Finance, that Chernomyrdin illicitly obtained significant holdings of stock in Gazprom, Russia's gas monopoly, during the firm's privatization--a privatization that Fyodorov characterized as "the biggest robbery of the century, perhaps of human history."9 Chernomyrdin was thus made one of the ten richest men in Russia (Gazprom was worth up to $700 billion). Reddaway also noted similar charges by Vladimir Polevanov, also a former Deputy Prime Minister, in a nationally televised interview in Russia. The New York Times reported in July 1995 that Chernomyrdin's son was building "an enormous country home" in a Gazprom compound, and that he was also thought to be "one of the company's largest shareholders."10

Chernomyrdin's continuing links to Gazprom after his entry into government were also widely reported. In fact, a March 1995, cable from the U.S. Embassy in Moscow signed by then-Ambassador Thomas Pickering directly alluded to Chernomyrdin's continuing involvement with Gazprom after he entered government, and with Gazprom's extraordinary influence over the government:

A former 'Gazprom' director--Viktor Chernomyrdin, who Embassy sources report spends a significant amount of his time on 'Gazprom' business--is prime minister. An aide to current 'Gazprom' director Rem Vyakhirev said recently that, when there are problems in his sector, 'they (the federal government) do not tell us what to do, we tell them what needs to be done.'11

Numerous public sources noted Chernomyrdin's specific role in ensuring that the gas monopoly paid minimal taxes. One expert estimated that Gazprom's tax breaks cost the Russian budget up to $30 billion12--an immense sum relative to total Russian revenues and expenditures (for example, Russia received less than $15 billion from international financial institutions in the four-year period from 1992 to 1995). This lost revenue had a grave effect on the government's ability to cope with the struggling Russian economy. In this sense, the Clinton administration's uncritical support for Chernomyrdin directly undermined the U.S. policy of encouraging Russia to increase tax collections.

Gazprom in return had provided funds for Chernomyrdin's parliamentary campaign in December 1995.13

In 1998, a book by Russian security officer Valery Streletsky added further public evidence that Chernomyrdin tolerated massive corruption within his government. The author, who headed a unit tasked with investigating government corruption, states that Chernomyrdin's long-time chief of staff, Gennady Petelin, amassed tens of millions of dollars in foreign bank accounts.14 The author further reported that Chernomyrdin's own chief of security personally told him:

Viktor Stepanovich [Chernomyrdin] relates seriously to cadres. This practice has been worked out over years. He thinks: let a good person steal 10% but do what is necessary with the other 90%.15

Chernomyrdin was recently brought into court to testify about his role in the illegal export of $180 million worth of diamonds and gold during his administration.16 As this report was being prepared, Russian press accounts quoted Swiss police sources as stating that tens of millions of dollars had been transferred into Swiss bank accounts controlled by Chernomyrdin during his tenure as prime minister.17 The transfers were made by Mercata Trading, a firm linked to Mabetex, which is at the center of a major kickback scandal involving $300 million in Russian government contracts, including the scandal-ridden renovation of the Kremlin itself.

Given that Chernomyrdin served as prime minister for five and a half years, his embrace of corruption fundamentally compromised Russia's efforts at economic reform. In this way, the Clinton administration--and Gore personally--contributed not only to Russia's failure to overcome corruption, but to the spread of corruption throughout the Russian political system.

Gore's failure to heed U.S. intelligence by showing discretion about Chernomyrdin and other corrupt officials in his public diplomacy--his willful blindness, and that of other senior administration officials to the overwhelming public and classified evidence of official Russian corruption--sent precisely the wrong signal to U.S. intelligence analysts, who had proven their regional expertise by accurately predicting the collapse of the Soviet Empire.18

The New York Times reported the effect of the vice president's disdain for politically inconvenient intelligence:

The incident has fostered a perception in the agency's ranks that the Administration is dismissive of 'inconvenient' intelligence about corruption among the Russian leaders with whom White House and State Department officials have developed close personal relationships.19

One intelligence official has stated publicly: "They never want to hear this stuff." Another commented: "They don't ignore it. But they don't want to have to act on it." Current and former U.S. intelligence officials expressed similar views:

"'It [Chernomyrdin's corruption] was all laid out for Gore [in 1995] ... and he didn't want to hear it. Our government knew damn well what was happening.'"20

Senior administration officials including Gore "definitely didn't want to know about corruption around Yeltsin. That was politically uncomfortable."21

The former Chairman of the National Intelligence Council, Fritz Ermarth, who retired from the CIA in 1998, wrote of senior Clinton administration officials that they had a "disdain for analysis about corruption of Russian politics and their Russian partners ... "22 Ermarth notes that this disdain was particularly strong during the critical 1993-96 period.

They Know That We Know

Russian assessments of what the U.S. knew about Russian corruption also undermine the Clinton administration's claims of ignorance. For example, a report by a think tank associated with the Russian military, the Russian Institute of Defense Studies, states specifically:

Special services of Western countries have full access today to all documentation of joint ventures and other partners of Russian exporters, they have the originals of financial documents, they are knowledgeable regarding the movement of commodity resources and financial flows, they have information on bank account numbers of the 'new Russians,' and they know about their real estate and securities transactions abroad.

The report, issued contemporaneously with the Gore "bull****" incident, further stated:

And it should be understood that ... the outflow of resources and capital from Russia abroad in the form in which it is being accomplished today is criminalized to the highest degree and represents not only a violation of domestic laws but also the grossest violation of laws of the western countries themselves.23

Yet even as publicly available Russian sources concluded that information about the full extent of Russian official corruption was known to Western intelligence services, the top Clinton administration policy makers chose to ignore it.

A System for Rejecting All 'Inconvenient' Intelligence

Vice President Gore has hedged his denial of the "bull****" incident, saying, "I don't think" that "[I] ever wrote a message of that kind." At the same time, however, he and other senior Clinton-Gore officials have publicly dismissed the CIA reports. Indeed, when asked whether "bull****" had ever been scrawled across a CIA report, Gore plainly referred to a specific CIA report, saying , "whoever sent that over there [could not have] expected the White House to be impressed with it ... it was a very sloppy piece of work."24 Other administration officials dismissed the CIA reports as "rumor," and denied that the CIA had provided "conclusive proof."25

But agency reporting is necessarily based on intelligence sources, often covert. By conveniently demanding a "smoking gun" whenever they sought to suppress uncomfortable facts, Gore and other top Clinton administration officials established standards of proof that were impossible to meet. The result was a rigged system for rejecting all "inconvenient" intelligence whenever it suited the preferences of the White House.

Such misuse of intelligence data deepened the mistrust between the White House and the Intelligence Community. CIA officials have described the resultant "frequent tensions between the agency and policy makers over reporting."26 According to one CIA official:

These people [the Clinton-Gore administration] have expected something no one in the intelligence community could provide--judicial burden of proof. ... Did we have an authenticated videotape of the person actually receiving a bribe? No. But reporting from established, reliable sources was written off as 'vague and unsubstantiated.'27

CIA officials have described the intelligence information concerning Chernomyrdin that was provided to Gore as "more detailed and conclusive than allegations of bribery and insider dealing that have been made in the Russian media and elsewhere."28 Yet when asked--as recently as July 2000--whether Chernomyrdin is corrupt, Gore replied: "I have no idea."29

False Choices

Recently, Leon Fuerth, the vice president's national security adviser, has tried to play down the widespread intelligence community condemnation of Gore's disdain for official reporting by arguing that the problem of corruption "was on the [Gore-Chernomyrdin] Commission agenda."30 But it is difficult to see how a Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission could meaningfully attack the problem of Chernomyrdin's own corruption, or that of his associates. Indeed, addressing corruption in partnership with Chernomyrdin, whom another former Russian official called "the chief mafioso of the country,"31 was tantamount to endorsing Russia's corrupt status quo.

Gore's lavish praise for Chernomyrdin, and his intentional personalization of their relationship make it equally impossible to accept Fuerth's claim that Gore had no alternative but to deal with the prime minister. (The Clinton administration, Fuerth stated, had either to "boycott the government of Russia" or "deal with [Chernomyrdin]"32--an obviously false choice.) Gore's embrace of Chernomyrdin and the ever-larger role assigned to the Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission went far beyond what was justified by what the U.S. government knew of him, and by the Commission's meager results.33

The pro-forma inclusion of official corruption "on the agenda" of the Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission, along with scores of other topics large and small, is quite different from making its eradication a priority. The content of the Clinton administration's policy on Russian corruption has amounted to general disinterest. It has offered lip service34 while failing to act on specific problems such as money-laundering until forced by events.

The very serious allegations made against the Russian Prime Minister and Vice President Gore's partner in the Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission, amply set forth in official U.S. intelligence reports, were simply rejected by the Clinton administration as the scope of the issues assigned to the Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission was steadily increased. Indeed, to the extent that President Clinton seemed willing to give an ever-increasing role in the U.S.-Russian relationship to the Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission, Gore stood to benefit from maintaining his continued close personal relationship with Chernomyrdin.

In light of Chernomyrdin's notorious corruption, the expansion of the Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission's role and the decision to make it the fulcrum of U.S. policy were a serious error that abetted the growth of official corruption and crime in Russia, to the detriment of the Russian people and the longer-term U.S.-Russian relationship.35 Broader, less centralized cooperation with the Russian government and a less fulsome embrace of Chernomyrdin could have averted these problems, and kept the United States on the side of reform.

The Larger Pattern

Vice President Gore's approach to evidence of Chernomyrdin's corruption is a microcosm of the approach he and the Clinton administration took towards the problem of corruption, which extended far beyond Viktor Chernomyrdin.

As Wayne Merry, a senior official at the Moscow Embassy during the first part of the Clinton administration, testified in September 1999:

It is now asked, "What did our policy makers know about corruption in Russia and when did they know it?" I can only say that anyone involved with Russia--in government or on the street--knew about it all along. There was no secret. Even if the Embassy and the CIA had not written a word, the Western press covered the story fairly well, while the Russian media reported on corruption constantly ... . Anyone who wanted to know, knew. The real questions are, "Did our policy makers care, and what did they do about it?"36

The answer to these questions is clear, not only in the case of Chernomyrdin but in many other cases as well. The Clinton administration repeatedly ignored evidence and sought to politicize the analytical process, routinely dismissing or stifling reporting that did not support their policies or fit their political requirements.

Donald Jensen served as a second secretary in the U.S. embassy in Moscow from 1993-1995 and returned to Moscow in 1996. During his 1996 work at the embassy, Jensen wrote a 10-page cable identifying Russian oligarchs who were using their government connections to win control of prized enterprises. According to Jensen, his cable was killed by a Clinton administration Treasury official who worked in the Moscow embassy.

The administration official, Jensen stated, justified suppressing factual reporting about Russian official corruption by arguing that "if the memo were sent to Washington, it could be leaked to the press, and that would undermine U.S. policy."37

Jensen told "Frontline" that the cable was never sent because "it was bad news, and we [the Clinton administration] were intent on making our policies work."38 Moreover, he added:

if corruption was shown to exist in any significant degree ... that was criticism of the [Clinton] policy because we had argued for a number of years that these things--these policies--were for the good of Russia, and that if you now say that the government's completely corrupt, that it's linked directly or indirectly with organized crime, you're essentially saying the policy the U.S. government has followed over the past few years was wrong.39

Thomas Graham, the head of the U.S. Embassy's political section in Moscow from 1994-1997, confirmed Jensen's account in an interview in the Washington Post.40

In the same article, Graham's predecessor in Moscow, Wayne Merry, said the embassy, "was under constant pressure to find evidence that American policy was producing tangible successes, especially after the creation of the 'Gore-Chernomyrdin' working group." Merry also said that the Clinton administration's desire to make the Gore-Chernomyrdin commission a success prevented reporting "about the realities of crime and corruption ... failures in the privatization and general bad news."

Graham argues compellingly that the dismissal of such reporting by senior Clinton administration officials was a direct consequence of their personal relationships with a handful of Russian officials.41 Because senior Clinton administration officials became so close with their counterparts in the Russian government, he suggests, over time they came to trust their Russian interlocutors more than reports from within their own government. Thus, senior Clinton administration officials came to rely upon their Russian partners not only for information, but for analysis and policy recommendations as well; as a result, the CIA, the embassy staff, and other independent sources of information were marginalized.

At times the Clinton administration has positively hindered the uncovering of official corruption: the Swiss government has recently complained of U.S. refusal to cooperate with its criminal investigations into official Russian corruption. Laurent Kasper-Ansermet, a Swiss investigative magistrate, formally requested assistance from the U.S. government in his investigation into the Bank of New York case in September 1999 and began a series of detailed requests for information and assistance in January 2000, but to date has received little cooperation.42

Groupthink

An article in the National Journal suggests that the Clinton administration's policy toward Russia may be a classic case of "groupthink," a psychological process in which "wishful thinking, shaky premises, and a tendency to deny facts at odds with the cognitive underpinnings of a course of action to which a group is committed" can lead to flawed decision-making and policy failures.43 Moreover, because the decision-makers involved in "groupthink" are unable to admit their own errors, they become trapped in a "tangled muddle of self-justification, denial, and distortion." The National Journal analysis attributes much of the problem in Russia policy to Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott and Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers. They, like Vice President Gore, were unwilling, and eventually unable, to distinguish the imagined world of their own policies from the real world of an increasingly desperate Russia. As a result, the Clinton administration continued, and even intensified, activities that were plainly destructive.


Al Gore -- Solicitor-In-Chief / Dialing for Dollars

Albert Gore Jr. played the central role in soliciting millions of dollars in campaign money for the Democrat Party during the 1996 election. Gore raised at least $40 million of the $180 million collected by the Democrat National Committee (DNC) for the 1996 campaign. Gore attended eight of Clinton’s White House coffees and acted as a host himself at 23 coffees with donors. Gore’s sessions were held in the vice president’s ceremonial office in the Old Executive Office Building next to the White House and at the Naval Observatory. Furthermore, Gore has acknowledged making direct telephone solicitations on government property. At issue is whether Gore illegally solicited funds with a DNC or Clinton/Gore campaign credit card and whether this was a violation of the federal Hatch Act.

  • According to former White House Senior Adviser George Stephanopoulos, the DNC had set up and paid for "special phones," "special faxes," "special computers," "for political work, for the fund-raiser work" in government buildings. (sources: The Associated Press, 3/2/97; ABC’s "This Week," 3/2/97)
  • In a hastily arranged press conference on March 3, 1997, Gore claimed he did nothing illegal when he solicited money for the DNC on federal property. Gore repeated seven times that there was no controlling legal authority emphasizing: "My counsel -- and Charles Burson (sp) is my counsel here -- my counsel advised me that there is no controlling legal authority or case that says that there was any violation of law whatsoever in the manner in which I asked people to contribute to our re-election campaign." Furthermore, Gore confessed that, "On a few occasions, I made some telephone calls, from my office in the White House, using a DNC credit card. I was advised there was nothing wrong with that practice. The Hatch Act has a specific provision saying that, while federal employees are prohibited from requesting campaign contributions, the president and the vice president are not covered by that act because, obviously, we are candidates." (sources: Albert Gore Jr., White House Press Conference, 3/3/97; The Washington Times, 3/4/97)
  • Despite his assertion that he did nothing wrong, Gore "decided to adopt a policy of not making any such calls ever again, notwithstanding the fact that they are charged to the Democratic National Committee as a matter of policy." (source: The Washington Times, 3/4/97)
  • The next day, White House officials claimed that Gore misspoke when he said he used a telephone credit card from the DNC. In fact, the White House claimed Gore used a credit card issued by the Clinton/Gore campaign committee. Clinton/Gore campaign counsel Lyn Utrecht told the New York Post that the DNC will reimburse the campaign for the Gore calls "if we determine there was a cost." Congressional investigators have subpoenaed DNC phone records to make sure taxpayers did not foot the bill for Gore’s illegal fund-raising calls. (sources: The Associated Press, 3/5/97; New York Post, 3/6/97)
  • Political fund-raising on government property is unlawful. Former federal judge Abner Mikva circulated a memo in 1995 while White House counsel that said: "Campaign activities of any kind are prohibited in or from government buildings. ... also no fund-raising phone calls or mail may emanate from the White House." Furthermore, back in October 1993 while signing the Hatch Act Reform Amendments, Clinton claimed that, "The Federal workplace, where the business of our Nation is done will still be strictly off limits to partisan political activity." (sources: The Associated Press, 3/2/97; ABC’s "This Week," 3/2/97; Bill Clinton, Public Papers of the Presidents, 10/6/93)
  • Clinton and Gore volunteered "on their own" to solicit contributions by phone in 1995, according to a White House e-mail message. (source: The Washington Post, 7/4/97)
  • Furthermore, Gore may have made as many as 20 fund-raising calls that were billed to taxpayers. In June 1997, the DNC reimbursed the government $24.20 to cover the costs of the calls. (source: The Associated Press, 8/26/97)
  • Documents obtained by the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, first made public during the week of Aug. 29, 1997, showed that Gore was asked to make 140 fund-raising calls from his White House office. In total, he made 86. The documents also revealed that in 56 of the calls made, he sought between $25,000 and $100,000 from donors. He reached 46 of those and left messages for 10 others. Federal Election Commission (FEC) records indicate that the 46 donors Gore reached gave $695,000 to the Democrat Party within a month of receiving a call from Gore. (source: USA Today, 8/28/97)
  • More than $120,000 in campaign contributions personally solicited in 1995-96 by Gore for a "soft money" account instead went into a DNC "hard money" account subject to federal election limits. The money came from at least eight of the 46 donors Gore solicited from his White House office. Federal law places specific restrictions on the solicitation, amount and use of these different types of contributions. Among those restrictions, the law states that "hard money" cannot be solicited on federal property. (source: The Washington Post, 9/3/97)
  • On Dec. 2, 1997, Attorney General Janet Reno decided not to appoint an independent counsel to investigate Gore’s illegal fund-raising calls he made on federal property and other possible fund-raising illegalities. Her decision was made despite FBI Director Louis Freeh’s opinion that an independent counsel should have been appointed. Instead, Reno chose to keep the probe within the Clinton/Gore Justice Department, setting up a task force in the Criminal Division. (source: The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 12/3/97)
  • The Wall Street Journal reported on Aug. 18, 1998 that the Justice Department reopened its review of whether Albert Gore Jr.’s White House fund-raising calls violated federal-election laws and if an independent counsel should be appointed to investigate. Reno decided against appointing an independent counsel on Dec. 2, 1997. (source: The Wall Street Journal, 8/18/98)
  • On Aug. 19, 1998, Justice Department officials obtained a memo with hand-written notations discussing a meeting on Nov. 21, 1995 that appears to contradict Albert Gore Jr.’s account of fund-raising calls he made from the White House. The notes indicate that Gore and several campaign officials discussed how some of the large contributions being raised could be diverted from being used for general campaign purposes to accounts to directly finance the Clinton/Gore re-election campaign. (source: The New York Times, 8/20/98)
  • On Aug. 26, 1998, Attorney General Janet Reno ordered a 90-day preliminary inquiry into whether Albert Gore Jr. lied to Justice Department prosecutors and FBI agents during an interview on Nov. 12, 1997 at which he discussed fund-raising calls he made. The investigation into Gore’s fund-raising calls was reopened after Gore’s office produced a DNC memo referring to a Nov. 21, 1995 meeting at the White House attended by Gore and other campaign officials where they discussed how the money Gore solicited would be used. (source: The New York Times, 8/27/98; The Washington Post, 8/27/98)

Al Gore in ‘True Lies’

They Told Me it was "Community Outreach"

Albert Gore participated in a $140,000 money-laundering, illegal John Huang-organized fund-raiser in April 1996 at a California Buddhist monastery. Gore met the monastery’s master in 1989 during a trip to Taiwan. When the press first reported the event in October 1996, Gore claimed that the Democrat event abided by all campaign finance laws. However, as documents implicating Gore came to light, Gore changed his tune from describing the event as "community outreach," to admitting that the event was "finance related." The last Gore confession involves Gore claiming ignorance about the fund-raiser, saying, "I didn’t know it was a fund-raiser." Recent revelations from more than 30 documents turned over to Congress by former Deputy Chief of Staff Harold Ickes showed that Gore had been notified more than three months earlier that the event was set to raise $200,000 for the Democrat Party.

1989 John Huang helped set up then-Sen. Al Gore’s trip to Taiwan, where he met Taiwanese officials and Buddhist temple master Shing Yun.

(source: Investor’s Business Daily, 12/17/96)

April 29, 1996 Gore attended a fund-raiser at the Hsi Lai Buddhist Temple in Hacienda Heights, California, at which $140,000 was raised from monks and nuns. The same Shing Yun Gore met in 1989, was the head of the Hsi Lai Temple.

(source: Los Angeles Times, 10/17/96)

Gore Claims
No Violations

Oct. 13, 1996 Several days before the monastery details became public, Gore claimed:
  • "Number one, we have strictly abided by all of the campaign finance laws, strictly. There’ve been no violations." (emphasis added)

    (Al Gore, NBC’s "Meet the Press," 10/13/96)

  • Gore Claims
    Community Out-Reach Event

    Oct. 21, 1996 In an interview with National Public Radio, the Louisiana Radio Network, Gore pointed the finger of blame at the Democratic National Committee (DNC).
  • "The DNC set up the event, asked me to attend it. It was not billed as a fund-raiser. It was billed as a community out-reach event, and indeed, no money was offered or collected or raised at that event. But after the fact, contributions were sent in, and they came, evidently - again, I didn’t handle any of this. This is the DNC, and they should answer questions about it." (emphasis added)

    (Al Gore, 10/21/96 "National Public Radio," Human Events, 1/31/97)

  • However, according to documents examined by the Boston Globe -- three days before the monastery visit, the DNC sent Gore’s office a confidential memorandum making clear the event was a fund-raiser.

  • "According to documents examined by the Globe, three days before the temple visit, the DNC sent Gore’s office a confidential memorandum making clear the event was a fund-raiser, including instructions for Gore to ‘inspire political and fund-raising efforts among the Asian Pacific American Community.’"

    "Minutes before the event, Gore press aide Peggy Wilhide described it as ‘a fund-raiser’ to a Globe reporter who was traveling with Gore at the time."

    (Boston Sunday Globe, 1/12/97)

  • Gore Admits
    It Was "Finance-Related"

    Jan. 14, 1997 Gore acknowledged that he knew the Buddhist monastery event was a fund-raiser.
  • "Vice President Al Gore acknowledged yesterday that he knew a fund-raiser at a Buddhist temple in California was a ‘finance-related event,’ reversing 2 months of denials in which he said he believed the gathering was for ‘community outreach.’

    "‘He knew it was a finance-related event,’ Lorraine Voles, Gore’s spokeswoman said in an interview last night. ‘He knew because we looked at documents in a briefing memo that were finance-related.’"

    "Gore himself said for the first time, in a television interview yet to be broadcast, that he was aware it was a ‘finance-related event,’ according to the official, who declined to be named." (emphasis added)

    (The Boston Globe, 1/15/97)

  • Gore Admits
    Mistake

    Jan. 20, 1997
  • "In retrospect, whether the event was a fund-raiser or not, it was a mistake for the DNC to hold a finance-related event at a temple, and I take responsibility for my attendance at the event, especially since I was informed that this outreach event was sponsored by the Asian-American Leadership Council of the DNC, and participation in the council required a prior donation." (emphasis added)

    (Al Gore, The Washington Post, 1/20/97)

  • Gore Claims
    Ignorance About Fund-Raiser

    Jan. 24, 1997
  • "I did not know that it was a fundraiser. But I knew it was a political event and I knew that there were finance people that were going to be present, and so that alone should have told me, ‘This is inappropriate and this is a mistake; don’t do this.’ And I take responsibility for that. It was a mistake." (emphasis added)

    (Al Gore, NBC’s "Today," 1/24/97)

  • The Truth
    Comes Out About Gore

    Four months after the press reported about Gore attending the 1996 illegal John Huang-organized fund-raiser at the Buddhist monastery, the White House released records which showed that Gore’s office knew it was a fund-raiser and was warned to proceed with "great, great caution."

  • "White House aides sidestepped or ignored warnings from the National

    Security Council [NSC] staff about some contacts the president and vice president had with Asian American fund-raisers now under federal investigation, documents released yesterday show."

    "Vice President Gore’s office was told by an NSC staff official to proceed with ‘great, great caution’ in deciding whether to attend what Gore’s office explicitly described as a ‘fund-raising lunch’ at a Buddhist temple in Los Angeles last year."

    "The White House dispatched Vice President Gore to the 1996 event after deciding the concerns were unfounded." (emphasis added)

    (The Washington Post, 2/15/97)

  • Furthermore, the latest revelations, stemming from more than 30 documents turned over to Congress by former Deputy Chief of Staff Harold Ickes, show that Gore had been notified more than three months before that the Buddhist monastery event was set to raise $200,000.

  • "Vice President Al Gore, who claims he did not know an April 1996 visit with contributors in a Los Angeles Buddhist temple was a ‘formal fund-raiser,’ had been notified more than three months earlier that the event was set to raise $200,000 for the Democratic Party, according to White House papers.

    "More than 30 documents – dated Jan. 2, 1996 to April 10, 1996, and turned over to Congress by former Deputy Chief of Staff Harold Ickes – also show the expected take from the fund-raiser was increased to $350,000 after it was held and $130,000 came pouring into Democratic coffers."

    (The Washington Times, 4/11/97)

  • Harry Truman, who coined the phrase ‘the buck stops here,’ must be rolling in his grave listening to Al Gore who seems to have cast aside Truman’s motto in place of -- ‘pass the buck to the DNC.’

    GORE & MOLTEN METAL TECHNOLOGY, INC.

    Inventors of a new process to convert campaign contributions into government contracts.

    Timeline

    1989 Molten Metal Technology, Inc. (MMT) founded by William Haney. The company seeks to develop a process by which hazardous and nuclear wastes can be melted down and recycled into useful products. (The Village Voice, 4/1/97)
    1993 MMT was one of 18 firms to obtain research grants to find ways to rid the nation of nuclear waste. The grant was $1.2 million. "Department of Energy (DOE) consultants warned that Haney’s process offered ‘no significant advantage’ to ‘justify its preferred development’ over rivals’." (Time, 6/9/97)
    February 1993 Molten becomes a publicly-traded company. (Forbes, 1/22/96)
    September 1993 MMT opens its Fall River, Mass. plant. Peter Knight arranged for Assistant Energy Secretary Thomas Grumbly to be a guest speaker at the plant’s opening. "Grumbly suggested that the firm could receive as much as $200 million in federal work, which sent the stock soaring." (Time, 6/9/97)
    January 1994 The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory reports that Molten’s new process was probably inappropriate for the kind of waste at most nuclear weapons sites. (Time, 6/9/97)
    March 1994 The General Accounting Office states that Molten’s technology was at least 13 years from full development. (Forbes, 1/22/96)
    March 24, 1994 Molten contributes $15,000 to the Democrat National Committee (DNC). (Federal Election Commission [FEC] reports)
    The same day, Molten receives a $9 million federal contract extension from the DOE. (Time, 6/9/97)
    August 1994 MMT forms a limited partnership with Lockheed Martin Corporation, M4 Environmental L.P. (MMT press release, 10/23/95)
    April 1995 Al Gore travels to the Molten plant in Fall River, Mass., calling Haney a "shining example of American ingenuity." (Time, 6/9/97)
    June 14, 1995 Molten executives and employees contribute $10,000 to the Clinton/Gore ’96 campaign. (Time, 6/9/97)
    The same day, Molten receives a $10 million federal contract extension from DOE. (Time, 6/9/97)
    Late 1995 A technical peer-review panel says the DOE should cease funding Molten at the end of the fiscal year (November 1995). (Time, 6/9/97)
    May 7, 1996 Molten contributes $10,000 to the DNC. (Time, 6/9/97)
    May 10, 1996 Molten receives an $8 million contract extension from DOE. (Time, 6/9/97)
    June 27, 1996 Lockheed Martin contributes $100,000 to the DNC. (Time, 6/9/97)
    September 25, 1996 The Molten/Lockheed partnership receives a $27 million federal contract. (Time, 6/9/97)
    October 1996 DOE announces it would grant Molten an $8 million research contract through March 1997, $12 million less than investors expected. Within a day, Molten’s stock sinks 49 percent in value. (Forbes, 4/21/97)
    October 23, 1996 DOE issues statement expressing enthusiasm for Molten’s process. (MMT press release, 10/24/96)
    December 1996 A DOE panel concludes that Molten’s technology poses environmental and safety risks and might not be cost-effective. (Time, 6/9/97)
    February 12, 1997 San Diego-based law firm Milberg Weiss files class action suit in U.S. District Court (Mass.). (The Village Voice, 4/1/97) The stockholder’s class action suit charged that Haney and other company officials gave unrealistically rosy projections about Molten’s prospects to investors in 1995 and 1996. (Forbes, 4/21/97)

    The Players

    • Peter Knight is "the hub of Gore’s political circle. He ran Gore’s House and Senate office for years, helped finance his campaigns and chaired the Clinton-Gore re-election effort in 1996. … From where he stood between Haney and Grumbly, Knight came up with a fruitful arrangement: he began lobbying the Gore appointee [Grumbly] on behalf of the businessman he was soliciting for Gore campaign cash." (Time, 6/9/97)
    • William Haney is a "former Gore campaign staffer," according to The Washington Times, 5/31/97, and a former fundraiser for Gore, according to Forbes, 1/22/96. Haney founded MMT in 1989 and sought to mine lucrative government contracts for environmental clean-up.
    • Thomas Grumbly is a "Gore protégé." (Time, 6/9/97) He "was staff director of the Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight of the House Science and Technology Committee from 1981 to 1982." (PR Newswire, 7/22/87) Until recently, he was the Clinton/Gore-appointed Assistant Energy Secretary in charge of the government’s nuclear waste clean-up program.
    • Eugene Berman, who was MMT’s Vice President of Governmental and External Affairs, has had a long relationship with Grumbly. They both worked together at Clean Sites Inc. "NONPROFIT Clean Sites Inc. appointed Thomas P. Grumbly president and Eugene Berman executive vice president. Clean Sites is a nonprofit organization that encourages the cleanup of hazardous waste sites." (The Washington Post, 8/17/87)

    The Quid-Pro-Quo

    • All told, MMT, its employees and Lockheed Martin contributed just over $218,000 to Clinton/Gore and the Democrats and received over $60 million in government contracts over a four-year span. If the $218,000 were a business investment, and the $60 million worth of contracts the payoff, it would be the equivalent of a 27,423 percent return. The booming Dow Jones Industrial Average, by comparison, only grew by 69 percent between March 1994, when MMT made its first contribution, and December 1996.
    • MMT, its officers and employees contributed a total of over $118,000 to the Clinton/Gore campaign, the Democrat Party and other Democrat candidates for office between 1993 and 1996. (FEC reports)
    • "Knight arranged extraordinary access for a small contractor like Haney. He got him or his top executives into 10 meetings with Grumbly over two years. Haney and Grumbly dined together three times at such Washington haunts as Sam and Harry’s and the Prime Rib. Haney also accompanied Knight to a select dinner party at the Vice President’s residence." (Time, 6/9/97)
    • The DOE office which oversaw the awarding of government nuclear waste clean-up contracts, until recently headed by Grumbly, "has awarded Haney’s Molten Metal Technology $33 million to test its process on the poisoned remains of nuclear-weapons proving grounds – more money than 17 other companies have received collectively to do the same job." (Time, 6/9/97)
    • On three occasions, MMT’s quid fell within three days of the DOE’s quo. On March 24, 1994, MMT gave the DNC $15,000 and received a $9 million contract extension on the same day. On June 14, 1995, MMT executives gave Clinton/Gore ’96 $10,000 and received a $10 million extension the same day. On May 7, 1996, MMT gave $10,000 to the Democrat Party and got an $8 million extension three days later.
    • Haney formed a partnership with another lobbying client of Knight’s, the Lockheed Martin corporation. Lockheed’s $100,000 donation to the DNC on June 27, 1996 netted a $27 million contract on Sept. 25, 1996, to develop a clean-up plan for a site in Richland, Wash. (Time, 6/9/97)

    The Gore Tax

    The Gore Tax, simply put, is no simple matter. It involves questions of circumventing the Constitution and empowering unelected officials, bad economic policy, inefficient use of technology, and downright dishonest business dealings. At the heart of the matter is this: the Gore Tax is a tax handed to the American people which was not authorized by Congress. Its intended use is the connection of every classroom in America to the Internet, Vice President Al Gore's pet political project, hence his support of the program. Otherwise known as the "e-rate," the Gore Tax is a multi-faceted economic nightmare that raises frightening questions of Executive authority and bureaucratic growth.

    The Gore Tax arose out of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the first rewrite of the Communications Act of 1934, which declared that all Americans should have access to communications services at a reasonable cost. The new act essentially made the same assertion with regard to the Internet. In short, the Act requires the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) to provide unconnected schools, libraries and clinics with Internet access at significantly discounted rates. These rates are determined by the number of students per school who qualify for the federal free lunch program.

    The service is funded by a Universal Service Tax on telecommunications providers, who recoup that cost by raising the phone bills of the public. Friction between the bureaucrats who administer the Gore Tax and the telecommunications providers began when the government asked that the tax increase not be itemized, but rather simply hidden in consumers' bills. Telecommunications providers refused to accommodate the government, which tried to camouflage its e-rate scheme. For example, when AT&T began itemizing the new cost on phone bills and a public response ensued, the FCC pressured AT&T to cease this practice.

    In this year's budget, $750 million has been allocated to provide Internet access to America's young people. Further, $2.25 billion per year in discounts has been made available to schools and libraries. And although Gore does not advertise this fact, the Universal Service budget is expected to grow to over $10 billion by 2003, the bulk of which will be financed by the discreet tax found in one's long distance phone bill.
    Continue to Goretax.com >>


    The Hammer and Sickle Award
    From
    Government Executive Magazine

    Once honored as a "hero of reinvention" with Vice President Al Gore's Hammer Award, a former Defense Department procurement analyst apparently would have preferred a hammer and sickle.

    Theresa Squillacote, a former attorney in the Pentagon's acquisition reform office, was charged Monday with spying for East Germany. Squillacote, her husband and another man, who met in college as leftist activists, were allegedly paid more than $40,000 by East Germany for U.S. government secrets.

    Squillacote left the Defense Department in January. She had been recruited by Colleen Preston, former deputy undersecretary of defense for acquisition reform, who also retired in January, when they worked together on the staff of the House Armed Services Committee in the early 1990s, The Washington Post reported Tuesday. Last year, Squillacote was awarded a Hammer Award by Vice President Al Gore's National Performance Review for her role in improving Defense procurement processes. Squillacote coordinated the acquisition reform office's legislative initiatives, including its participation in developing the Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act of 1994.

    Before joining the acquisition office, Squillacote was a staff attorney at the Defense Systems Management College, where she received a Meritorious Civilian Service Award for her work. From 1983 to 1990, Squillacote was a staff attorney at the National Labor Relations Board.

    Throughout her career, though, Squillacote was working to undermine what she called the "bourgeois parliamentary democracy," according to an FBI affidavit cited in The New York Times. She bemoaned her job at the Pentagon to an undercover FBI agent who was posing as a South African Communist Party official, saying "the weight of the whole five-sided building is on me."

    Squillacote allegedly sent photographs to East German agents during her tenure at the National Labor Relations Board. After German reunification, she and her partners tried to get in touch with Soviet officials, and after the Soviet Union disbanded, Squillacote contacted a South African Communist Party official. The FBI then launched an investigation.

    Squillacote and her partners are being held without bond on charges of conspiracy to commit espionage.


    Gore Hits Up Johnny Chung - Again

    Wants More Money Out Of Fund-raiser Who Funneled
    $300K From Communist Chinese Army


    From the Los Angeles Times, April 3, 1999

    "Among the 850,000 past supporters who received the
    (Gore 2000) campaign's initial direct-mail solicitation was
    Johnny Chien Chuen Chung, the Torrance businessman and former Democratic fund-raiser who pleaded guilty to using conduits to funnel money to Clinton-Gore '96."

    'Dear Friend,' began Gore's Feb. 9 letter addressed to
    Chung, 'Without your previous support, Bill Clinton and I
    would not have won our victories for the American people
    in 1992 and 1996. … And to win in 2000, I need you by my
    side.'"

     

    Courtesy: Republican National Committee


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