- The Washington Times - Monday, January 17, 2000

Staying in Washington for the holidays did not keep first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton from her New York Senate race.
During a star-studded White House dinner on New Year's Eve, Mrs. Clinton invited two of her key supporters to share her head table: Dennis Rivera, chapter president of a union with 300,000 members in New York, and Bernard Schwartz, a wealthy Democratic donor who heads the New York-based Loral Space and Communications Ltd.
Newly released campaign finance reports show that Mr. Schwartz and his wife, Irene, donated $40,000 to a special fund-raising account created to help Mrs. Clinton beat New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani.
Although Mrs. Clinton will not file her first report with the Federal Election Commission until Jan. 31, records recently filed by her donors indicate that Mr. Rivera's Service Employees International Union contributed $10,000 to her campaign.
The FEC reports and other new information also show:
* At least seven of her donors attended the White House New Year's party.
* Many more contributors may have attended that and 10 other holiday parties, but Mrs. Clinton's office only identified 288 of the "thousands and thousands" of the guests at one event.
* One of Mrs. Clinton's joint fund-raising committees raised nearly $1.2 million as of Nov. 30.
* A contributor to that committee works for Refco, the trading firm involved in Mrs. Clinton's controversial 1978 cattle futures deal that turned her $1,000 investment into $100,000 in 10 months.
* Many donors won't be identified until committees file their biannual 1999 FEC reports on Jan. 31 and their 2000 reports in August.
* Other notable guests included the Clintons' longtime friend and fund-raiser, Terry McAuliffe, and Walter Kaye, the Democratic donor whose clout helped get Monica Lewinsky her internship.
Several other guests were recently named the Democratic Party's 50 wealthiest donors. They made tax-deductible contributions to a foundation for "America's Millennium," the White House-sponsored public extravaganza on the Mall that was held in conjunction with the private party.
"Big gifts like that are rarely given with only one thought in mind," said Larry Makinson of the campaign finance watchdog group the Center for Responsive Politics. "If you give to a foundation that's also connected with a politician, there's an extra bonus there because the politician will be grateful to you for doing it. And that can come in very handy years later if there's a particular issue where that politician could be helpful to you."
While the intertwined web of donations may not be uncommon in presidential politics, he said it could cause political fallout for Mrs. Clinton if it reminds "people about the systematic way in which President Clinton used the White House to raise funds for his presidential campaign."
The first-time candidate is using the same fund-raiser for her Senate race, Mr. McAuliffe, who helped her husband craft the much-criticized practice of inviting big donors to sleep in the Lincoln Bedroom.
Niranjan Shah, one of Mrs. Clinton's donors and a former guest at a White House coffees, once told the Voice of America that the Indian community he represents tries "to influence the U.S. foreign policy." He said its lobbying helped defeat a bill that would have cut off aid to India the same type of legislation Mrs. Clinton would vote on as a senator.
The Chicago-based company Mr. Shah heads, Globetrotters International Inc., donated $3,000 to "New York Senate 2000," a joint fund-raising committee of Mrs. Clinton's campaign and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Another one of his companies, Globetrotters Engineering Corp., made a generous tax-deductible donation to "America's Millennium."
Mr. Shah did not return calls but a fund-raiser for the festivities said the contribution may have been in the $100,000 to $250,000 range. Mrs. Clinton's office, the National Park Service foundation, which received the $15 million in donations, and other top officials connected to the event all declined to disclose a complete list of the donations.
A $1 million sponsor of the gala, Vinod Gupta, said he also donated the "maximum" legal amount he could to Mrs. Clinton's Senate campaign.
Mr. Gupta, founder of INFOusa, a company that sells computerized mailing lists, said he thinks he donated $1,000 but that it may have been $2,000. He also said he plans to hold a fund-raiser for Mrs. Clinton.
Individuals can give a candidate's own committee $1,000 for the primary election and another $1,000 for the general election. But the two joint fund-raising committees set up for Mrs. Clinton's race can collect unlimited "soft money" from corporations. Soft money the unlimited donations parties can receive for so-called "party-building" activities has already paid for TV ads featuring Mrs. Clinton.
"New York Democratic Victory 2000," a joint fund-raising committee of Mrs. Clinton's committee and the Democratic National Committee, will not file its first report until Jan. 31.
Mr. Gupta sat at President Clinton's table at the New Year's gala, where they dined on truffle-marinated rack of lamb, beluga caviar, lobster and foie gras. They were joined by Mr. McAuliffe, Elizabeth Taylor, Sophia Loren, and several others.
Also seated with Mr. Clinton was Walter Shorenstein, who was just named in a new book, "The Buying of the President 2000," as one of the Democratic Party's top 50 "soft money" patrons. Daniel Abraham, who made a $1 million tax-deductible donation for the year-2000 extravaganza and heads the Florida-based Slim-Fast Foods and the New-York based Thompson Medical Co., was also at the president's table.
Mr. Abraham made Mother Jones magazine's list as one of the country's top 10 political donors. Active on behalf of Israeli causes, he could help Mrs. Clinton win over the important Jewish vote in New York.
Mrs. Clinton headed her own table at the gala. She sat with Mr. Rivera and Mr. Schwartz, whose foundation helped sponsor the event, along with actors Robert De Niro and Lynda Carter.
One of the guests who also contributed to Mrs. Clinton's joint committee was Washingtonian Liz Robbins, who donated $5,000. Agnes Gund, president of New York's Museum of Modern Art, donated $20,000 to the committee and was also a major sponsor a "vice chair" of the year-2000 extravaganza. Her financial assistant, Patricia Lazak, represented her at the White House soiree.
Walter Kaye, whose $330,000 in donations to the Democratic Party helped Monica Lewinsky gain a White House internship, also attended. His name does not appear on campaign finance reports filed to date and he did not return calls.
Although Mrs. Clinton named virtually all of the 288-plus guests at the New Year's dinner, she declined through her spokesman to disclose the names of the roughly 700 additional partygoers who mingled with celebrities and other luminaries at the White House disco-type party later that night.
Her spokesman Toby Graff said Mrs. Clinton typically does name the "thousands and thousands" of friends, supporters, politicians, media and others who attended the year's 11 White House holiday parties.
Florida businessman Paul McCarthy moved to Washington for six months to direct the public and private festivities that made up the "America's Millennium" celebration. The group was formed by the White House Millennium Council, a cultural history project Mrs. Clinton has directed since she and President Clinton created it in 1997.
Mr. McCarthy said a decision will soon be made whether $15 million raised for the extravaganza will cover the costs of the White House party.
Representatives from the White House, the Smithsonian Institution and the National Park Service will decide on that after the expenses are tallied at the end of this month. The tax-deductible donations were handled by the National Park Foundation, the agency's nonprofit fund-raising arm.
Researchers John Sopko and Jae Dell Smith contributed to this report.

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