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Clinton Kids About ’96 Fund Raising

September 24, 2000

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ President Clinton made light Sunday of the various investigations into his 1996 fund-raising activities and the scandal over Chinese money that continues to dog Al Gore.

Clinton cracked up an audience of California political supporters when he recalled the glorious surroundings at a similar event in Santa Barbara four years ago.

``I thought we were all just going to levitate off the side of the world,″ Clinton said. After a thoughtful pause, he continued: ``If I had done that, it would have been the subject of another investigation.″

Adopting a mock-serious, broadcast-style voice, Clinton intoned: ``How did he do that? What was behind that? What mysterious foreign entity financed that levitation?″

Republicans in Congress launched a variety of investigations into the possible Chinese influence and illegal foreign donations after Clinton and Gore won re-election in 1996.

A Justice Department task force has charged more than two dozen people and continues to investigate 1996 campaign finance activities, but Attorney General Janet Reno declined to appoint a special counsel.

Last week, newly released White House e-mail messages revived the controversy over a 1996 event Gore attended with Chinese-Americans at a Los Angeles Buddhist temple.

More than $100,000 was illegally raised for Clinton, Gore and other Democrats at the April 1996 event. The White House says the event was not a fund-raiser.

But Gore’s staff described the luncheon as a fund-raiser, and an e-mail suggested he bring $20 as ``an offering,″ according to the reconstructed White House computer messages.

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