Talk:1996 United States campaign finance controversy/Archive 1

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The third and fifth paragraphs of this article read like a "talking-points" style defense of the Clinton administration. The statement "It has been characterized as the most partisan, unfair, and abusive investigation since the McCarthy hearings" is a highly biased point-of-view, and the claim that it "was also the most expensive congressional investigation in history" is not supported by any reference or a statement of how much the investigation actually cost. The quotes from newspaper editorials are examples of opinion, not fact.

The fourth paragraph is biased *against* the Clinton administration and references a right-wing web site of disputed reliability.

added new information[edit]

I added enough information that the references to those paragraphs by number is no longer valid. They are still there but placed in less prominent positions.

Chinagate has come to mean one of several if not multiple incidents to different audiences. The Cox report fits in as a key piece but it alone is not what chinagate was about.

The political leanings of the cox investigation and the current 'revealing' of similar incidents during the Reagan/Bush administrations is making political biases a new topic of conversation. Therefore a section called "Political Biases" covers this view/angle as it relates to the name chinagate.


what specific allegations of pov violations are made? without discussion of the topic, there is no way to fix it. Derex 03:45, 29 January 2006 (UTC)

wen ho lee?[edit]

what the hell? i've _never_ heard of that with regard to the phrase "chinagate". there are vast numbers of google hits for wen ho lee and chinagate separately. a miniscule percentage of those are hits for them together. and most of those do so coincidentally. it's simply not correct that wen ho lee is any part of what is popularly known as chinagate, other than that he's chinese.

that's a problem with this article title, it's a neologism. the title ought to be something descriptive about controversial Chinese political contributions. Derex 03:56, 29 January 2006 (UTC)

does someone want to defend the inclusion here? stashing lee under chinagate is, as best i can tell, purely a wikipedia invention. am i wrong? is there a sourceable basis for this? Derex 23:19, 31 January 2006 (UTC)

npov check removed[edit]

I edited a few phrases to distinguish facts from opinion. I've removed the POV check banner. Whoever added the Wen Ho Lee material will have to resolve that with Derex. --Eseymour 23:23, 31 January 2006 (UTC)

article content[edit]

I have reworked the article to be more neutral, more concise, and focus on the original meaning of the phrase: a campaign finance scandal. The material about Wen Ho Lee and the espionage issues already has dedicated articles ... Wen Ho Lee and Cox report respectively. The Buddhist temple aside (not directly related) is covered as the first issue in the Al Gore controversies page. So, I'm not trying to "censor" anything, just get some sort of logical organization to the various components. There was quite a bit of material about those two issues here, and I tried to verify it was already present in those two articles. However, there I may have missed something, because of the large amount. If so, I apologize, it's not my intent to remove any factual information. Derex 18:36, 2 February 2006 (UTC)

copyright vio[edit]

An extremely lengthy copyright violation was posted. I have removed it. For reference, here is the source. It was, at any rate, wholly unencyclopedic. Derex 07:10, 6 February 2006 (UTC)

The site you reference is in violation of copyright laws. I wrote the timeline myself almost six years ago. For reference see: [] And what is your definition of "encyclopedic? I gave exact dates for reference. I would have given links to news sites, but, unfortunately, most sites constantly move news article to different addresses all the time. jayzel68

first, most of this really belongs in a separate article. in fact so does this one. our general policy is not to use these sorts of cutesy "gate" names when possible, but rather a descriptive name. for one reason, the names strongly reeks of pov. to the extent this is about espionage, i'd suggest Clinton Administration Chinese espionage controversy. the present article ought to be something like Clinton Administration Chinese donations controversy. then, "Chinagate" ought to be a disambiguation page, as apparently some use it to refer to both issues.
one of the problems is that it's not really clear what the hell your timeline is about. it's a hodgepodge of stuff. most of it has some relationship to china, but not all does. what's the connecting thread? second, by "encyclopedic", i mean written like an encyclopedia article. can you imagine opening up Britannica and seeing that? it's fine for free republic, but it's not a suitable style for here. as i said, there's no connecting thread, it's just a jumble of facts; we are not an information dump. you need to actually write something approximating an article.
also, if you want to contribute something verbatim like that, you'll need to demonstrate ownership. you can do this by posting a note on freerepublic under the original contributor's name. however, for the most part it needs a re-write anyway. lastly, you don't have to have web-links to the sources, plain old article citations will do (often you can deduce these by looking at even defunct web-link names). use the cite and ref templates to make these easy. source what you can. something obscure or dubious might be unsuitable without a ref, but we won't hold up generally known facts over a reference -- though eventually everything should become cited. btw, dates are not references; references means where you found the information. how can we confirm it?
thanks for your contributions, now that it seems not to be a copyvio. hope this explanation was helpful. i will leave a welcome template on your page with useful links to policy. but if you have a dynamic ip you will miss it, so just type {{welcome}} on your talk page to see the links. regards, Derex 18:26, 6 February 2006 (UTC)

In Process of Re-building Entire Page[edit]

This page was in dire need of detailed information, references, notations, etc. I am in the process of rebuilding the entire page. I hope to be finished within a few weeks. --Jayzel68 16:15, 8 February 2006 (UTC)

Move to different page[edit]

I'm considering moving this entire page to 1996 Campaign Finance Scandal and having all traffic redirected there. Does anyone have any disagreements with this? I realize "chinagate" is more popular with people on the net, but is was only known as "campaign finance" with print and tv media at the time in question. --Jayzel68 15:31, 10 February 2006 (UTC)


Financial scandal in Zimbabwe? Russia? France? This should be rename to 1996 USA campaign finance scandal or sth similar.--Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus Talk 01:53, 14 February 2006 (UTC)

Agreed. Done. --Jayzel68 05:08, 16 February 2006 (UTC)

Tnx. Do mind that the links to the FAC/PR templates need to be fixed as well.--Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus Talk 21:57, 16 February 2006 (UTC)

Naming politicians[edit]

John Kerry was named in several of these scandals when they were in the news - see his talk page. I think that should be mentioned here. 02:21, 28 March 2006 (UTC)

Actually, I don't see any mentions on that page of 1996 campaign finance scandals. Is that the year you're thinking of? -Will Beback 02:50, 28 March 2006 (UTC)
Many U.S. politicians received tainted money. Sens. Dianne Feinstein, John Kerry, and Ted Kennedy, as well as Rep. Curt Weldon to name a few. I din't add this information into the article for a few reasons: All money was returned and no criminal charges were brought against them; I didn't want to overload the article with factoids that don't fit into the flow of the prose; The article already runs pretty long at 50 kilobytes. --Jayzel 12:54, 28 March 2006 (UTC)
Sounds fair to me. I am an Australian, so fairly non-partisan. Unless the Kerry scandals are related to this particular topic I don't believe they should be in this article. - Ta bu shi da yu 03:02, 27 April 2006 (UTC)


This is a biased piece. You'll notice that the sources do not necessarily confirm what the author has written, that there is a lot of innuendo. They entire "New China Lobby" makes it seem like this scandal was about treason, rather than campaign finance. Unlike normal articles, the author cites straighforward facts, but does not cite controversial ones-- in otherwords, this is commentary.

While questions regarding the U.S. Democratic Party's fund-raising activities first arose in October 1996 (uh, cite please? Who posed these questions? I'm guessing Rush), China's alleged role in the affair first gained public attention after Bob Woodward and Brian Duffy of the Washington Post published a story stating that a U.S. Department of Justice investigation into the fund-raising activities had uncovered evidence that agents of China sought to direct contributions from foreign sources to the Democratic National Committee (DNC) before the 1996 presidential campaign. (The media also thought whitewater was important-- and it wasn't)

The US senate committee report is not reputable.

and on...

yawn. Again, these sources prove nothing. they generally reference the "scandal", rather than giving us facts. The linkages between the "facts" are filled in with lacuna and innuendo.

The following excerpt, for instance, is pure innuendo. There is nothing in these paragraphs that proves anything-- or comes close to being convincing. It implies there was a quid pro quo, when none has been proven. Neither is the credibility of this "close business associate" examined. The article is trying to write a very dubious history.

Ron Brown and Bernard Schwartz Commerce Secretary Ron Brown Enlarge Commerce Secretary Ron Brown

A close business associate of Ron Brown testified in court in 1998 that Brown had told her that Commerce Department trade missions were used for partisan political fund-raising at the behest of President Clinton and the First Lady. Specifically, she said trade mission plane seats were sold to business people who gave at least $50,000 each to the DNC.[26]

A Commerce Department official reportedly threw away official government documents concerning the department's trade missions to China after a judge ordered they be turned over to Judicial Watch, a conservative government watchdog group. According to the court: "No adequate explanation has been given as to why these documents were destroyed."[27]

Some of the trade missions to Asia were attended by Bernard Schwartz, then CEO of Loral Space and Communications (an American maker of satellites). Schwartz donated over $600,000 to the DNC and President Clinton's 1996 reelection effort.[28] Loral was fined $14 million in 2002 for its involvement in illegally transferring missile technology to China in 1996.[29] The transfer of classified secrets occurred in February 1996 during an investigation into the failed launch and explosion of a Long March rocket that was to carry a Loral satellite into space. President Clinton signed the special waivers that allowed China to launch the Loral satellite.[30]

Brown, who had been under investigation for fraud and bribery allegations, died in a plane crash in Croatia in April 1996.[31]

An interesting missing piece in this story is how rightwing talk radio and and its enablers managed to flog this story for so long, its role in the character assasinations of both Clinton and Gore, and how irresponsible the media in general was during this whole affair. That *has* been documented reputably.

  • I guess Attorney General Janet Reno is a closeted right-wing Rush nut. Afterall, she is the one who opened the investigations into Huang, Brown, Trie, Hsai, Loral, and even Monica. --Jayzel 05:44, 27 April 2006 (UTC)

No she's not. But the people pushing this story so hard in the media were. Where's that part of the story?

  • How people reacted to the scandal is not worthy of inclusion in a story that is already a bit long. What is important is the facts regarding those convicted by a jury of crimes and the unusual actions of government officials shredding documents and inviting Chinese arms merchants into the White House. I don't recall any other scandals in history where large chucks of texts are devoted to the salivating of the political opposition. Wait a sec. Nope. I just checked out Watergate scandal and I don't see any reference to the glee of Nixon's opponents. Nothing at Iran-Contra Affair either. Perhaps if you find the topic worthy of your interests you can create a separate article and link to it from this one. This is Wikipedia afterall. If you feel you can improve the article and have references to back up any statements or claims, help yourself. Regards, --Jayzel 20:12, 27 April 2006 (UTC)

Why is a picture of Jiang Zemin and Bill Clinton at the top of the article? Were they involved with illegal donations? Where is that proof?

  • I'm not the Justice Department. I just wrote an article about the known facts. Ask these guys why Reno refused their request for a full independent investigation: FBI Director Louis Freeh wrote to then Attorney General Janet Reno in November 1997 that "It is difficult to imagine a more compelling situation for appointing an independent counsel." In July 1998, the Justice Department's campaign finance task force head, Charles La Bella, also recommended Reno seek an independent counsel. In his report to Reno he wrote: "[A] pattern [of events] suggests a level of knowledge within the White House -- including the President's and First Lady's offices -- concerning the injection of foreign funds into the reelection effort." Additionally, La Bella stated: "If these allegations involved anyone other than the president, vice president, senior White House or DNC and Clinton-Gore '96 officials, an appropriate investigation would have commenced months ago without hesitation." --Jayzel 19:58, 27 April 2006 (UTC)

Let's suffice it to say that the main author of this article posted a previous version of to FreeRepublic with the title "TREASON OF BIBLICAL DIMENSIONS!"[]. It's absolutely filled with innuendo and leading phrases. See this edit I just made for a good example. I used to think the facts were ok, but just a little overly-spun. However, I started factchecking another article by this author, and in at least 5 cases the refs did not actually say what the article said. It also has very serious WP:OR problems; it's an embarassment this made it to the main page. I think this thing needs to go before a peer review or something. Derex 23:10, 25 October 2006 (UTC)

Confused about Campaign Financing Issues[edit]

This article brings to mind various issues concerning campaign financing regulations which I find confusing. I suspect that my confusion may not be unique and that others may also benefit by learning from the writers whom have done such a good job with this article.

1) Can one reasonably expect that campaign finance laws to be effective at preventing foreign entities from gaining to influence American politics thru contributions? It occurs to me that there are many practical difficulties involved: contributions could be made thru American proxies, or, more subtly, by foreign entities using informal influence with American partners to encourage these partners to act on their behalf: When Boeing contributes to a China-friendly politician, are they doing it in hopes of bettering Chinese-American trade relations (presumably a legitimate action) or are they perhaps fulfilling an informal agreement to earmark a portion of their latest Chinese Airlines contract award to support a politician hand picked in Beijing (an aptly named Manchurian candidate)?

2) Similarly in the category of practical difficulties: Can American political parties reasonably be charged with screening the identities of all contributors? How deep is the investigative requirement (ie, can they reasonably be expected to determine who is the man behind the man behind the man... Remember: the turnover time between receiving and spending a contribution may be just a matter of weeks).

3) The article mentions a Chinese restaurant owner making contributions to President Clinton in the range $200000 - $500000. Is it realistic that a president would endanger his programme for such small incentive?

4) How to account for the exceptions made in allowing Israeli lobbying organisations (AIPAC..) to exert financial influence? Is this simply a case of raw political power creating special rules for itself?

5) Has financial manipulation of American politics by foreign (and domestic!) entities always been a problematic feature of US democracy, or has it become a more serious issue over time? In the latter case, what are the reasons for this trend?

Thank you for your attention! --Philopedia 11:43, 27 April 2006 (UTC)

  • To answer questions 1-3 visit the website for the Federal Election Committee (FEC). The URL can be found in the external links section of the article. There are strict laws regarding donations. Off the top of my head I believe some of the requirements are for the political parties to keep names, signatures, addresses, and places of employment of donors on record and to submit them quarterly to the FEC. These donations are all public information and can be found at the website Open Secrets. While the law cannot stop a non-U.S. citizen from donating if they want to do so, they can and will be discovered eventually. The main problem has been the lack of strict penalties for illegal donations. Seventeen people were convicted in the 1996 campaign finance scandal, but only one person received any jail time (A man by the name Yogesh Ghandi). As for question #4: It is just as illegal for an Israeli citizen to donate money to a U.S. politician as it is for a Chinese citizen. You are confusing lobbying with making financial donations. Anyone can lobby a government official in the U.S. The only requirement is that a non-American lobbyist must, under law, register as a "foreign agent". Regarding your last question: Yes, there has always been financial manipulation in American politics! :) I hope this answered your questions. --Jayzel 12:03, 27 April 2006 (UTC)

Just realized I skipped your question number 3. The donation from Charlie trie was just one of many problem donations. The actual total money that was returned runs into the millions. As for whether or not this is enough for a president to "endanger his programme", I don't know. It's up to the readers to decide for themselves. Regards, --Jayzel 12:09, 27 April 2006 (UTC)

Thanks for your clarification, Jayzel. I'm learning, but there is much yet to understand. May I extend my list with another question: if financial contributions become problematic for foreign agents, then why limit themselves to contributing money? A foreign agent could just as easily undertake direct steps to support their candidate, for instance, paying for advertisements or broadcasts directly, with or without coordinating such actions with campaign organisers. A sticky wicket, indeed! Cheers, --Philopedia 15:59, 28 April 2006 (UTC)

0.5 nom[edit]

This article is considered to fall outside the scope of the Version 0.5 test release, which is of limited size. It is now being held ready for a later version. Jaranda wat's sup 16:55, 8 June 2006 (UTC)


I added a pov tag to this article. The problem is that this article weaves in all sorts of stuff about nuclear espionage and arms deals and so forth, giving the impression that they are all somehow connected with some fundraising issues. That's simply not documented here, or anywhere else that I've seen. Further, many of the underlying facts in the references are, to be charitable, spun rather hard here. Given that the major author of this article initially wrote a much more virulent version at posted it at freerepublic under the subject line "treason of biblical dimensions", I'd say a thorough vetting of facts here is in order. But, my fundamental objection is the interweaving of all of these arms issues with campaign finance, to imply an undocumented connection. Yes, they happened around the same time, so? It's written to imply that the government basically sold nuclear secrets for a few campaign contributions. Derex 12:22, 6 November 2006 (UTC)

  • Wow, dude, you are something else. Perhaps you don't remember the rules around here. This is a featured article and has already been vetted as you well know. You have been lurking on this article since it was written 9 months ago. You remained silent during its FA candidacy. If you have a problem with it now, send it to FA for review. You can't just blank the opening paragraph and remove the FA star because you feel like it. As for the nuclear espionage info, it is clearly marked as background information -- And it was added due to requests during FAC that there should be an explaination about US/China relations at the time. As for your research into an opinion I wrote on a different website over 6 years ago, I suggest you take a deep breath and rethink your actions. This is stalking plain and simple -- and quite frightening as well. --Jayzel 19:24, 9 November 2006 (UTC)
    • Reviewing the talk page and the article history, I notice several things: first, the POV tag was removed even though there is ample discussion of the issues on the talk page - I have restored it. Second, the support for the original WP:FAC was quite thin, and the notion that the article was "vetted" in that process is a bit of an overstatement. Third, there appears to have been no attempt here at dispute resolution given a documented case for POV: WP:FAR is not dispute resolution. I have asked other editors to opine whether the article should be removed from WP:FAR, to another forum for dispute resolution. Lastly, please take care with allegations of stalking and the like. Sandy (Talk) 15:50, 20 November 2006 (UTC)
      • I am removing the POV tag. There is no issue at dispute. Derex made a bizarre claim that the article is "written to imply that the government basically sold nuclear secrets for a few campaign contributions". Where does he get this from? There is nothing of any sort found in the article. If you can find a quote such as this in the article, please post it. He is taking an opinion I wrote six and a half years ago on a different web site (an opinion that I may or may not hold anymore) and applying it to this article in his mind. He is basically applying the POV tag to me and not what is written on the page. Secondly, your comments that the Wikipedians who supported this article did not vett it and take their responsibilty seriously are quite interesting to say the least. Lastly, if researching an article contributor's 6-year-old internet comments isn't stalking, what is? Wikipedia rules clearly state we are to comment only on the article and not the writers. Regards,
        • The POV is documented on several talk page entries here: you should not be removing POV tags inserted by other editors without attempting to dispute resolution and developing consensus. Sandy (Talk) 17:38, 20 November 2006 (UTC)
          • You are misreading the POV complaints. All but Derex's are pre-FA status. And Derex's can't be resolved because his dispute is within his own head and bears no relation to the actual article. Regards, --Jayzel 18:43, 20 November 2006 (UTC)

misconception about fundraising scandals and hearings[edit]

First, there is a misconception in the article that this was only about China. This started when both major presidential candidates in 1996, Clinton and Dole were found by Common Cause to have been recieving foreign donations, but not only from China. Focus was put more on Clinton than Dole for obvious reasons. The hearings in Congress also extended beyond China and featured witnesses, including businessmen, admitting that their contributions (including to Clinton) were meant as bribes. There was also a video tape of Clinton discussing with his aides how he could circumvent campaign finance laws, which was unrelated to foreign donations.

Second, as far as the situation with China goes, there was a Chinese general who admitted to donating money to influence US elections, so as far as that is concerned, some Chinese intent is not 'alleged'; whether it was a full scale government sponsored program is another matter, but its more than just suspicions by politicians with an agenda.

Even though I wouldn't want to make this about Clinton, because it was just an issue with corruption in US politics in general, and Dole's campaign was as as much suspicious; its important to note that during the hearings in Congress, Clinton's approval ratings were very low, and there was broad support of investigations by the public. People have some perception that Americans were behind Clinton and were tired of scandal-mongering; but this turnaround happened with the Lewinsky scandal.


  • I agree there was more to the controvesy than just the China angle, however the bulk of the Senate report on the matter (which I used as a roadmap for this article) delt mostly with China and the figures mentioned (Huang, Riady, Trie, et al). Perhaps if I get some free time in the future, I will add a few paragraphs mentioning the other issues involving Roger Tamraz from Lebanon, then RNC head Haley Barbour, the White House "coffees", and the controversy about the Lincoln bedroom rentout. I'm not familiar with any issue regarding improper fundraising by Bob Dole. If you can point me in the direction of some articles regarding this I would be greatly appreciative. Thanks for your comments. --Jayzel 20:55, 18 November 2006 (UTC)


I have readded the alternate title Chinagate to the lead. While some may find the term politically biased, the term is well-known. A Google search of the words "Chinagate" and "Clinton" received over 27,000 hits and almost 500 at LexisNexis. Some of the publications where the term was found were at, The Village Voice, Business Week, Asia Week, and the Washington Post. --Jayzel 16:14, 20 November 2006 (UTC)

On second thought, I made a compromise decision to move the alternate title Chinagate to the criticism of Justice Department investigation section. --Jayzel 15:29, 4 December 2006 (UTC)