Carter, Burton call for closer fund-raising scrutiny

WASHINGTON - Former president Jimmy Carter Sunday joined the chorus calling for an independent counsel to investigate President Clinton's political fund-raising.

His comments came as a raft of Washington-based talk shows focused on videotapes documenting Clinton's meetings with rich contributors.

"We think some of those tapes may have been cut off intentionally. They've been, you know, altered in some way," said Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind., who heads the House probe into fund-raising. He appeared on CBS' Face the Nation.

The White House had no immediate comment.

Carter, on CNN's Late Edition, said accusations of improper fund-raising give the "not always erroneous" impression that to get help from Washington, "you've got to contribute money and a so-called legal bribe." Both parties are guilty, he said.

Former Democratic chairman Don Fowler, also on CNN, said, "I wouldn't call it bribery," adding campaign gifts did not affect decisions by Clinton.

Carter said an independent counsel could "defuse this big issue . . . and get it out of the front pages and get out of these everyday new, minor revelations that are having such a devastating effect" on Vice President Gore's reputation and presidential hopes.

Burton said the videos will be analyzed by technicians to determine if they were edited.

Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., who is on the Senate committee investigating fund-raising, said the original videos, not copies provided by the White House, must be analyzed.

Specter, on Fox News Sunday, said video of Clinton describing how ads financed by the Democratic Party helped him "is proof that he was evading the law." Specter wants an extension of the committee's Dec. 31 deadline.

Newsweek reports Monday that Richard Jenrette, a retired South Carolina investment banker, says Clinton called him from the White House to solicit a contribution. Clinton has said he does not recall whether he phoned people from the White House to ask for contributions. It is illegal to raise campaign funds on federal property.

By Jessica Lee , USA TODAY