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By Judicial Watch
Washington, DC
Aug. 8, 2001

Justice Official Says Offering Meetings with Government Officials In Exchange for Campaign Contributions Perfectly Legal


(Washington, DC) Judicial Watch, the public interest law firm that investigates and prosecutes government abuse and corruption, received a letter last week from Lee Radek, the outgoing head of the Public Integrity Section of the Justice Department, suggesting it was perfectly legal for congressional Republicans to offer meetings with government officials in exchange for campaign contributions. In a letter dated July 30, Radek wrote Judicial Watch that Congressman Henry Hyde had similarly complained about Bill Clintonıs fundraising activities and, as with Bill Clinton, no investigation would take place of Republican fundraising practices. Radek (and his old boss Janet Reno) had been roundly criticized by conservatives and many Republicans for taking this stance with respect to Bill Clintonıs flagrant fundraising abuses. Indeed, Radekıs demotion was announced just recently by the Ashcroft Justice Department.

Judicial Watch is taking legal action against Congressman Tom Delay and the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) for selling tax policy discussions with Bush White House officials in exchange for campaign contributions. Judicial Watch has also acted against the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), which was engaged in similarly illegal activity ­ selling access to Bush Cabinet officials in exchange for campaign contributions. After Judicial Watchıs legal actions, which included the filing of complaints with the Federal Election Commission, House Speaker Dennis Hastert repudiated the NRCCıs fundraising tactics and Sen. Peter Fitzgerald quit his fundraising post at the NRSC.

"Corruption in Washington has come full circle. The Republicans can now point to the example of Bill Clinton to try to excuse their illegal fundraising. And it is reprehensible for the new Justice Department to continue to take the Reno Justice Department's position that it is legal to sell meetings with government officials for campaign contributions," said Judicial Watch Chairman and General Counsel Larry Klayman.

"The Justice Departmentıs position that government officials can sell access for campaign contributions is contrary to the law and common sense. This is a case where a special counsel is required -- a Republican-controlled Justice Department is obviously conflicted in investigating Republican fundraising abuses. In fact, Republicans called for an independent counsel and specifically attacked the Reno Justice Department for the legal stance the Bush Justice Department now takes. Well, whatıs good for the goose is good for the gander. This also illustrates the need for non-partisan watchdogs such as Judicial Watch to do the job the Justice Department won't do ­ expose, investigate, and end government corruption," added Tom Fitton, Judicial Watch President.

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