08/28/98 -- Reno Asked to Investigate Justice Department's Chinese Contracts

WASHINGTON, D.C., August 28 -- Citing the possible influence of political contributions on the Justice Department's award of computer contracts to a Chinese firm, the president of an heritage association has asked Attorney General Janet Reno to probe the matter as part of her campaign financing investigation.

John Edward Hurley, the association executive who heads the Confederate Memorial Association headquartered in the nation's capital, said that as much as $50 million in computer contracts had been awarded by the Justice Department to WIN Laboratories of Manassas, Virginia.

Hurley said that Richard T. Hines had represented the company and had contributed $50,000 at a dinner where House Speaker Newt Gingrich urged that the funds be don ated to National Empowerment Television (NET). NET was the tax-exempt organization that was promoting Gingrich's "Renewing American Civilization" series that was the subject of the House ethics committee investigation that resulted in the speaker's censu re and fine.

According to Hurley, both Hines and James W. Freeman, who was raising political funds for the presidential campaign of Senator Robert Dole, had orchestrated a massive lawsuit against the Confederate Memorial Hall museum and library i n downtown Washington that resulted in the closing of the century-old facility. Former Senator Dole loaned Gingrich the money to pay the $300,000 fine levied by the ethics committee.

Hurley said that a $50,000-per-plate dinner was held at the Hay-Adams Hotel in February of 1995. Other $50,000 contributors included syndicated columnist Arianna Huffington and Richard Larry, who has been representing Richard Mellon Scaife, the multi-millionaire who has funded many of the legal foundations that have brought legal action against President Clinton.

The Rutherford Institute, which has paid the legal bills of both Hines and Freeman, have been representing Paula Jones in her lawsuit against the president.