- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 4, 2004

Considering his fund-raising past, Democratic presidential front-runner John Kerry – the self-styled populist — has been displaying an extraordinary amount of chutzpah on the campaign trail since his surge in Iowa. “I’m running to free our government from the grip of lobbyists,” he declared in his Iowa victory speech. In his New Hampshire victory speech, he delivered a message to the “influence peddlers” and other “special interests” who, he asserted, now call the White House home: “We’re coming. You’re going. And don’t let the door hit you on the way out.”

As it turns out, the senator who has raised the most money from lobbyists over the past 15 years is none other than Mr. Kerry, according to a study by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics (CRP). In fact, he’s the only senator to break the $600,000 barrier in individual campaign donations from those he calls “influence peddlers.”

Mr. Kerry makes much of the fact that he refuses campaign contributions from political action committees (PACs). Another CRP study found that among the $69.2 million in hard-money contributions from the lobbying industry to federal candidates since 1990, 95 percent have been in the form of individual donations by lobbyists and only 5 percent have come from their PACs. And Mr. Kerry has been the biggest recipient of lobbyists’ individual donations. Mr. Kerry’s presidential campaign alone has been the beneficiary of nearly a quarter-million dollars in contributions from lobbyists.

In 1996, Mr. Kerry pocketed an illegal contribution from the notorious Johnny Chung, who was beseeched by a Kerry fund-raiser to “host an event in L.A.” Chung later did so at a Beverly Hills hotel. Chung’s largesse (he donated $366,000 in soft money to the Democratic Party) was largely financed by a $300,000 infusion from Chinese military intelligence through Liu Chaoying. Miss Liu, who accompanied Chung to Mr. Kerry’s Capitol Hill office, was a lieutenant colonel in the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and an aerospace executive for a firm sanctioned by the United States in 1991 and 1993 for providing missile technology to Pakistan. She was also the daughter of China’s then-highest-ranking general, Liu Huaqing, whose responsibilities included obtaining Western technology to modernize the PLA. Newsweek has reported that Mr. Kerry’s aides, after being told Miss Liu was interested in listing one of her companies on a U.S. stock exchange, “immediately faxed over a letter to the Securities and Exchange Commission. The next day, Liu and Chung” — neither of whom, obviously, was a constituent of Mr. Kerry’s — “were ushered into a private briefing with a senior SEC official.”

In a future editorial, this page will review the sources and uses of hard and soft money collected and dispensed by Mr. Kerry’s very own leadership PAC, the Citizen Soldier Fund, which apparently possessed none of the dubious qualities of PAC’s whose contributions he so self-righteously declined.

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