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Gore Raising Money Despite Probe

October 16, 1997

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Seeking political donations in California, Vice President Al Gore declared Wednesday night that fund-raising investigations are not hurting his ability to generate cash for Democrats.

Gore also dismissed a suggestion that he suspend fund-raising events until Attorney General Janet Reno completes her inquiry into his and President Clinton’s 1996 campaign tactics.

``The idea that one of our two major political parties should cease its political efforts ... to gain the ability to put its views before the American people is one that I don’t think has a lot of support or meets the test of common sense,″ Gore said in response to a reporter’s question minutes after landing in Los Angeles.

He left the airport to attend two fund-raisers for Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., who faces a tough re-election campaign in 1998. The events were putting $225,000 into her campaign coffers.

Hours after Reno defended her investigation before hostile Republicans in Washington, Gore was asked if controversy related to the probe had hindered his fund-raising prowess.

``Hadn’t thought about that one, but I think the answer is no,″ he said, noting that 250 people were waiting for him at Boxer’s reception.

Democrats who forked out $500 apiece to sip cheap wine, nibble cold vegetables and hear Gore speak said the fund-raising controversy is not scaring donors away.

``People are really sick and tired of Washington being about political gains and losses and would really like to see taxpayer money spent on real issues,″ said David Novak, owner of a Los Angeles public relations firm.

``It’s not an issue outside the Beltway,″ said Harry Zinn, a Los Angeles attorney.

In her remarks, Boxer addressed the dilemma of Democrats who are pushing for campaign finance reform while seeking the type of donations they want to outlaw.

``You might say, `You know, that’s a contradiction, Barbara. You’ve been fighting for campaign finance reform and yet you have these events and you have to raise funds,‴ she said.

``It is not a contradiction ... because the very senators that are acting so stunned and surprised that candidates have to make calls for contributions are the very ones who are blocking a vote on campaign finance reform,″ Boxer said.

Gore was in Los Angeles on Tuesday but flew to Florida for events there Wednesday. He came back to Los Angeles late Wednesday, and will stay until Friday.

Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for him confirmed that an endowment at the University of Tennessee named in honor of Gore’s sister, received $50,000 donations from each of two government contractors who had retained a former long-time aide to Gore, Peter Knight, as a lobbyist.

Lockheed Martin Corp. contributed a total of $50,000 in 1995 and 1997 to the Nancy Gore Hunger Chair of Excellence in Environmental Studies at the Knoxville campus and William Haney, chairman of Molten Metal Technology Inc. of Waltham, Mass., contributed $50,000 in the endowment in 1994.

Knight, who chaired the 1996 Clinton-Gore campaign, has represented both companies in dealings with the Energy Department and Haney was a volunteer on Gore’s staff when he was in Congress.

Time magazine said in a report aired Tuesday night on CNN that the gifts were made about the same time Lockheed Martin’s contract to manage the Energy Department’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory was being renewed and when the department was increasing the value of a contract with Haney’s company.

Gore’s spokeswoman, Ginny Terzano, confirmed the gifts to the endowment but said there was no connection between them and the Energy Department contracts.

``This is innuendo, pure and simple,″ said Ginny Terzano, a spokeswoman for Gore. ``It’s offensive that the Gore family’s memorial to the vice president’s deceased sister, through innuendo, be so abused.″

The vice president’s sister, Nancy Gore Hunger, died from cancer in 1984. The Energy Department’s inspector general is investigating the circumstances surrounding the department’s awarding of $27 million in research contracts to Haney’s company since Gore became vice president.

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