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1997 Congressional Hearings
Intelligence and Security


Witness: Donald Fowler
Former Co-chairman, Democratic National Committee

  • The Finance Division of the DNC ran independently of Fowler's control because of the independent relationships DNC Finance Division staff had with Deputy White House Chief of Staff Harold Ickes and others at the White House

  • Ickes maintained partial operational control of the DNC Finance Division

  • Because of differences of emphasis between Fowler and Ickes, Fowler believed Ickes was involved in the management of the DNC in a way that Fowler did not appreciate

  • DNC Finance Division staff knew that Ickes, rather than Fowler, had operational control and made the decisions at the DNC

  • Fowler was concerned about the appropriateness of holding a fundraiser at the Hsi Lai Temple

  • Fowler knew that businessman Roger Tamraz wanted to construct an oil pipeline from Azerbaijan to the Mediterranean and was thinking of giving $300,000 to the DNC

  • Fowler was made aware of Tamraz's ethical and financial difficulties based on a memo he received

  • In 1995-96, Tamraz contributed about $300,000 to the DNC

  • Despite his ethical problems, Tamraz was put on a list to have breakfast with Vice President Gore in the fall of 1995 by the DNC, but was then disinvited at the behest of the Vice President's staff

  • Tamraz later met with Fowler and asked him to contact a CIA agent on his behalf

  • Two weeks after he spoke to Fowler, Tamraz made a $75,000 contribution to the Virginia Democratic Party, and on that same day, Fowler called the CIA

  • In his conversation, Fowler told the CIA agent that he understood the agent was in contact with the Vice President's office concerning Tamraz and he asked for any correspondence the agent might prepare for the Vice President

  • On December 13, 1995, Fowler called the CIA again and asked the Central European Division if it could provide a letter on Tamraz to clear Tamraz's name with the President
  • Despite the fact that the Vice President's staff told the DNC that Tamraz should not be invited to meet with the President or Vice President, Tamraz attended four events at the White House in late 1995 and 1996

  • Fowler asked the staff of the National Security Council if it would appropriate for Tamraz to attend a group event at the White House

  • The DNC's legal staff provided guidance to all DNC staff that they should not promise access for a donor or offer to contact Administration officials on behalf of a donor

  • In April 1995, a group of Indian tribes and their lobbyists met with Fowler to oppose a casino that another group of tribes was seeking approval of the Interior Department to build in Wisconsin

  • A petition to build the casino was then pending at the Bureau of Indian Affairs, whose career staff recommended granting the petition

  • Fowler contacted Ickes, explained the nature of the situation, and then spoke with an official at the Department of Interior to ask that the matter be reviewed

  • Harold Ickes also subsequently contacted the Department of Interior on behalf of the Indian tribes opposed to the petition

  • At a meeting in April 1995, the subject of a donation to the DNC was discussed at a meeting of the Indian tribes opposing the construction of the casino, and these opponents did donate $286,000 to the DNC, and after the Department of the Interior rejected the petition, one tribal leader wrote to thank Fowler for his help

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