07/10/97 - 01:00 AM ET - Click reload often for latest version

Memo shows plan for Asian-American fund raising

WASHINGTON - More than two years before the 1996 presidential election, an Indonesian businessman already was planning a major Democratic fund-raising effort among East Asia business leaders, according to a memo released Wednesday.

The March 15, 1994, memo, from a California official to the national Democratic chairman, was released by Senate Governmental Affairs Committee Republicans. They are seeking to document efforts by the Indonesian Lippo conglomerate to get one of its former employees, John Huang, hired as a Democratic Party fund-raiser.

Huang was hired by the Democratic National Committee in late 1995 to raise money among Asian-Americans. The $2.8 million in questionable donations returned by the Democrats included $1.6 million raised by Huang.

The Lippo real estate banking empire is headed by the Riady family, which has ties to President Clinton and substantial investments in the United States and China.

"In Seattle, James Riady asked me to consider working for them on a contractual basis to put together the business leaders from East Asia with the administration for meetings and education purposes," said the memo by Maeley Tom, then a California state Senate official.

"He felt we could do this through the DNC and use this as a vehicle to raise dollars from a fresh source for the DNC."

The memo was addressed to "David," identified as then-DNC Chairman David Wilhelm by committee witness Richard Sullivan. Sullivan was the Democratic Party's former finance director.

Ms. Tom also said Riady wanted her to put together a national conference of Asian-Americans. She said the conference could be "an excellent vehicle to re-engergize" Asian-Americans for the 1996 campaign "and raise money at the same time. I will be starting with Riady's in May."

Wilhelm said in a statement that he does not recall the letter. He added, "I would not have approved any plan to raise money from inappropriate fund-raising channels and I don't think Ms. Tom is implying this in her letter. To suggest that this letter represents the beginning of some sort of orchestrated effort to raise money from abroad is absurd."

By The Associated Press

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