- The Washington Times - Monday, February 2, 2004

Kerry and Chung

Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. John Kerry met and personally corresponded with Johnny Chung, a central figure in the foreign-money scandals of 1996, before Chung threw Mr. Kerry a Beverly Hills fund-raiser, Newsweek reports in its latest issue.

Mr. Kerry has maintained that his first meeting with Chung was at the Sept. 9, 1996, event, reporter Michael Isikoff writes. Chung, who visited the Clinton White House 49 times, eventually pleaded guilty to funneling $28,000 in illegal contributions to the campaigns of Mr. Kerry and Bill Clinton.

In the summer of 1996, Mr. Kerry, who was locked in a tough re-election fight, was told that a generous potential contributor wanted to visit his Capitol Hill office. The donor was Chung, a Taiwanese-American entrepreneur, who brought along some friends, including Liu Chaoying, a Hong Kong businesswoman later determined by federal investigators to be a lieutenant colonel in China’s People’s Liberation Army and vice president of a Chinese-government-owned aerospace firm.

Told that Miss Liu was interested in getting one of her companies listed on the U.S. stock exchange, Mr. Kerry’s aides immediately faxed a letter to the Securities and Exchange Commission. The next day, Miss Liu and Chung were ushered into a private briefing with a senior SEC official.

Within weeks, Chung returned the favor: On Sept. 9 he threw Mr. Kerry a fund-raiser at a Beverly Hills hotel, raking in $10,000 for the senator’s re-election campaign. According to bank records and Chung’s congressional testimony, the campaign contributions came out of $300,000 in overseas wire transfers sent on orders from the chief of Chinese military intelligence — and routed through a Hong Kong bank account controlled by Miss Liu.

“Dear Johnny, It was a great pleasure to have met you last week,” Mr. Kerry told Chung in a handwritten note dated July 31, 1996. “Barbara [a Kerry fund-raiser] told me of your willingness to help me with my campaign. … It means a lot to have someone like you on my team as I face the toughest race of my career.”

The new Kerry

You might think the Vietnam War was a big part of Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry’s life “just because he mentions it in every speech, on his TV commercials, in his campaign material, and during his media interviews, and also surrounds himself with Vietnam vets and his war buddies,” Roger Simon writes in U.S. News & World Report.

“But you would be wrong! That was the old Kerry. The new Kerry is a completely different guy. We know this because in a recent interview with him we innocently began a question by saying, ‘The Vietnam War is a big part of your campaign and a big part of your life. …’

“At which point, Kerry sharply interjected: ‘No! The Vietnam War is not; my life experience is. Vietnam is one part of it. But I also offer up and talk about my experiences as a prosecutor, as a lieutenant governor. The theme is delivering to the American people, making government accountable, making it work for people.’

“And we will believe that just as soon as Kerry starts surrounding himself on stage with all his prosecutor and lieutenant governor-era buddies,” Mr. Simon said.

Taking the pledge

South Carolina officials will require voters in tomorrow’s primary to pledge they are Democrats before they will be allowed to vote.

A report in South Carolina’s the State newspaper yesterday said voters will be required to sign an oath swearing, “I consider myself to be a Democrat,” before they will be allowed to cast ballots. If they refuse to sign it, they will be turned away.

The requirement has some observers concerned it will drive away independents who would be wary of declaring a party affiliation. This would affect as much as 20 percent of the state’s voters who consider themselves independents, the paper said.

Nu Wexler, executive director of South Carolina’s Democratic Party, however, said he didn’t think the pledge would be a problem, United Press International reports.

“This Democratic pledge shouldn’t be a deterrent for any voter who wishes to participate in the primary,” Mr. Wexler said.

Hope you lose, eh’

If Canadians were to pick the next president of the United States, George Bush would have no chance of being re-elected.

In a poll to be published today by Canada’s weekly news magazine Macleans, only 15 percent would vote for Mr. Bush, regardless of his Democratic opponent, United Press International reports.

The cover of the magazine features a picture of Mr. Bush and a headline reading: “Canadians to Bush: Hope you lose, eh.”

“It’s true Canadians have generally perceived Democratic presidents as being more in tune with our values,” national correspondent Jonathon Gatehouse said.

“But where Ronald Reagan and Bush the elder were at least grudgingly respected, the current president is decidedly not. There’s an ‘anybody but Bush’ sentiment out there.”

The nationwide survey of 1,367 Canadians 18 and older was conducted by Toronto-based Pollara Inc. from Jan. 20 to 25.

Spitzer’s donors

Some of the biggest donors to New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, widely expected to run for governor, are lawyers working for people he is suing.

A BusinessWeek analysis of New York state election filings found that among contributions being received by his Spitzer 2006 campaign organization are some from attorneys representing clients against whom Mr. Spitzer’s office has filed charges.

For example, Mr. Spitzer received $1,000 from defense lawyer Gerald Shargel on the same day Mr. Shargel’s client, William Kenyon, ex-president of Security Trust, was arraigned for grand larceny and fraud. Mr. Kenyon purportedly acted as a middleman to facilitate market timing for hedge fund Canary Capital Partners.

“On the same day that I’m having heated discussions with his office, [Mr. Spitzer’s fund-raisers are] calling, saying, ‘Where’s my check?’” Mr. Shargel said.

Kramer, Levin, Naftalis, & Frankel, the law firm for Canary Capital head Edward Stern, has given $12,000 to Spitzer — $2,000 before the Canary case and $10,000 after a $40 million settlement with Mr. Spitzer, United Press International reports.

Sharpton’s plea

Democratic presidential contender the Rev. Al Sharpton urged fans of soul singer James Brown not to “rush to judgment” after the music legend’s arrest this week on domestic assault charges.

“If he’s right I hope he can establish that, but I’m asking people to pray for him and not prejudge him,” Mr. Sharpton, who years ago worked as a member of Mr. Brown’s entourage, told CNN.

The “Godfather of Soul,” was arrested on domestic assault charges Wednesday at his home in Beech Island, S.C.

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or [email protected]

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