Huang: Cultural differences led to trouble

TAIPEI, Taiwan - Democratic Party fund-raiser John Huang blamed cultural misunderstandings and media bias for allegations that Asian-Americans made illegal donations to the Clinton campaign, according to an interview published Wednesday.

Huang said his fund-raising was aimed at increasing the influence of Asian-Americans in the United States. "I only hoped to try my utmost to help Asian-Americans ... exercise some strength," he told the China Times, a Taiwanese newspaper.

Huang has been a focus of investigations into alleged illegal fund-raising during President Clinton's 1996 presidential campaign. Republican senators investigating the charges claim he was a conduit for illegal contributions.

Huang and another Asian-American, Yah Lin "Charlie" Trie, raised most of the $3 million in donations the Democratic National Committee returned because of concerns it came from improper or foreign sources.

On Tuesday, U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno rejected calls to appoint an independent counsel to investigate allegations against Clinton and Vice Presidet Al Gore, arguing they hadn't broken any federal laws by making fund-raising phone calls from the White House.

Huang has refused to cooperate with the Senate investigation, saying he would invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination if called to testify.

He refused to discuss specific charges in the China Times interview, but blamed "muckraking by the media" for what he called unfair allegations against Asian-Americans. "It's not fair, since in fact all Asian-Americans ... had no unhealthy motivations," the newspaper quoted Huang as saying.

He also blamed differences between Asian and American cultures, citing the controversy over a fund-raiser Gore attended at the Hsi Lai Temple near Los Angeles.

Three nuns claim they were reimbursed by the temple for $55,000 in donations they made to the Democratic National Committee after the event, which was organized by Huang and Maria Hsia, another party fund-raiser under investigation.

U.S. law bans people from concealing donations by reimbursing others for campaign donations made as though they were their own.

By The Associated Press