- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 11, 2001

Judicial Watch, a legal-watchdog group that frequently pursued accusations of corruption against the Clinton administration, is now leveling similar charges against top Republicans.

Larry Klayman, Judicial Watch's chairman and general counsel, yesterday announced the group had filed a criminal complaint with the Justice Department against the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) and House Republican Whip Tom DeLay of Texas for "illegal activities in selling meetings with Bush administration officials for political campaign contributions."

The NRCC responded by saying that it had shared fund-raising lists with Judicial Watch for more than a year, a relationship that ended in December because of what the Republican group portrayed as Mr. Klayman's failure to hold up his end of the bargain.

At a news conference yesterday, Mr. Klayman accused the NRCC, Mr. DeLay, and House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert of participating in a Republican fund-raising scheme that violated several federal statutes and even implicated contributors in bribery because they invited potential contributors to give money for face-to-face meetings with Republican legislators and White House officials.

The Judicial Watch chief also released a fax from Mr. Hastert through the NRCC to one contributor, inviting the donor to "A Working Session for Business Leaders on President Bush's Tax Cut Plan."

Billed as NRCC's "Tax Reform Workshop" for business leaders May 2-3, the NRCC fax over Mr. Hastert's name invited recipients to a breakfast with the House speaker, dinners with Republican House members, and a forum addressed by Deputy White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolton and Mitchell E. Daniels Jr., Office of Management and Budget director.

"That is illegal, that is un-American, and it is an outrage," Mr. Klayman said. "You can give all the money you want [to the NRCC], but you can't expect anything in exchange for a quid pro quo."

Donald F. McGahn, NRCC's general counsel, told Mr. Klayman in a letter April 6 "that there is nothing illegal or unethical about our activity."

He said periodic NRCC forums for business contributors with elected leaders in Washington are "designed to keep those grass-roots activists informed."

Yesterday, NRCC released direct mail fund-raising records showing that Judicial Watch had used NRCC mailing lists for its own fund raising from September 1999 to last December, when the collaboration ceased in a dispute over Judicial Watch's failure to reciprocate in the list exchange.

The group used NRCC mailing lists for nine anti-Clinton fund-raising appeals to 96,377 Republican donors, the records show. But Mr. Klayman's group was denied access to further Republican lists to raise money slamming Vice President Al Gore after Judicial Watch failed to provide the NRCC's list broker with equivalent names for Republican fund-raising appeals.

Records of the NRCC and its direct-mail list broker, National Response List Marketing Inc. of Alexandria, show that Judicial Watch was denied 194,170 NRCC names for a "Gore Chinagate" fund-raising appeal last August, after Mr. Gore had received the Democratic presidential nomination.

"Sorry, but I will have to decline due to exchange balance, quantity ordered, and mail date," Patty Catano, an NRCC official, wrote on the list broker's request for Judicial Watch to use an NRCC contributor tape for the anti-Gore fund-raising appeal.

Mr. Klayman denied sharing mailing lists with the NRCC.

"They're lying," he said. "It's manufactured to deflect attention away from the NRCC's actions. They're going to get sued for libel."

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