February 22, 1998
Democrats Say Chinese Did Not Affect '96 Campaign
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By DOUGLAS FRANTZ
ASHINGTON -- Efforts by the Chinese government to influence American elections in 1996 did not have any impact on the presidential campaign, said a draft report prepared by Democrats on the Senate committee investigating campaign finance abuses.
The declassified report by the Democrats, which was provided to The New York Times, sought to counter one of the most explosive accusations of the campaign finance scandal and contradicted assertions in the report prepared by Republicans on the committee.
The Democratic report acknowledged that evidence was obtained from intelligence agencies that the Chinese government had approved a plan to try to influence American elections through lobbying and possibly illegal actions. But it asserted that the intelligence data, called nonpublic information, did not support the more sensational claims.
"As set forth in the nonpublic information provided to the committee, the China Plan was not designed to funnel campaign contributions into American elections, nor was it aimed at influencing the 1996 Presidential race," said the draft, which was expected to be completed and made public later this month.
The Democratic draft came on the heels of the disclosure last week of the Republican report on China. The Republican document drew many connections between the Chinese effort to influence American policy and important Democratic donors and fund-raisers. But it did not provide evidence that the Chinese affected the presidential race.
Both reports said that intelligence information described a plan developed at high levels of the Chinese government in 1995 to promote China's interests with Congress and the American public. But the Democratic report said senior officials with intelligence agencies testified that they had developed no information that any illegal activities had occurred on the part of the Chinese government in relation to congressional elections or the 1996 presidential race.
The Democratic report emphasized the failure to uncover evidence regarding the presidential race in response to a statement made in July by Sen. Fred Thompson, R-Tenn., the chairman of the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs, which conducted the campaign finance inquiry.
At the opening of the public hearings, Thompson said that the committee's investigation into the Chinese effort "suggests that it affected the 1996 presidential race and state elections as well."
Republicans involved in preparing their side's final report said that circumstantial evidence indicated that Chinese money was funneled into the Democratic National Committee and may have influenced the presidential campaign.
The Democrats acknowledged that the inquiry uncovered evidence that the DNC received contributions from foreign sources, but the report said there was no indication that their illegal contributions were linked to the Chinese government or its effort to influence American public opinion.
Republicans maintained that classified material provided a clearer and more damning portrait of the Chinese effort, but the Democratic report contended that the intelligence information did not support stronger findings.