07/09/97 - 12:42 AM ET - Click reload often for latest version

Glenn cites 'bipartisan abuses'

WASHINGTON - Sen. John Glenn used the opening of campaign finance hearings Tuesday to make the case for why Democrats will investigate how Republicans allegedly received illegal campaign contributions from foreign sources.

"The abuses have been bipartisan, and our investigations must be bipartisan," said the ranking Democrat on the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee.

Using a slide show, Glenn singled out a tax-exempt Republican think tank, the National Policy Forum (NPF), charging that it received illegal foreign money.

The group was chaired by Haley Barbour, also chairman of the Republican National Committee.

Glenn said the NPF was an arm of the RNC and was used for the "laundering of illegal foreign money."

"This story is the only one where the head of a national political party knowingly and successfully solicited foreign money, infused it into the election process, and intentionally tried to cover his footprints," Glenn said.

Barbour wouldn't comment on that charge Tuesday. "I look forward to having my say on this and other subjects when I appear before the committee," he said.

It is illegal for foreign companies (unless the money is generated by a U.S. subsidiary) and foreigners who have no legal U.S. residence to donate to U.S political campaigns.

Democrats hope to spotlight the NPF and other Republican activities later this month when they get a chance to call their own witnesses.

There was plenty of abuse by Republicans, Glenn said. He said that corporate money that started in Hong Kong was "spread out all over the country" by the RNC to help pay for elections in 1994.

The RNC recently released 80,000 documents related to its return of $102,400 in contributions from two Hong Kong millionaires.

Their firm, Young Brothers Development Co., brokers aircraft deals for China's air force and government-owned airline. The documents show that Barbour, as RNC chairman, aggressively sought the Hong Kong money.

By Judi Hasson and Judy Keen, USA TODAY

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