10/26/2000 -- IN FINAL DAYS, CANDIDATES COULD TRIP ON CONFEDERATE FLAG ISSUE
WASHINGTON, D.C., Oct. 26 -- With both major presidential candidates straining to avoid any last-minute missteps, an obscure court case in the D. C. Superior Court threatens to expose both Democratic and Republican fund-raising irregularities.
Fox Television News reported that Friends of Al Gore, Jr. had made a contribution to the Confederate Memorial Committee, according to Federal Election Commission records. A Gore spokesman dismissed the allegation, saying that no one remembered the 1992 contribution and pointed out that it was an insignificant amount ($40).
John Edward Hurley, president of the Confederate Memorial Association, said in the television interview that the expenditure was not made to his organization but noted that the address listed on the FEC record was more important than the amount. Hurley said that the address belonged to a major computer contractor with sensitive national security contracts who was also registered as a $550,000 per year foreign agent for Cambodia.
The Confederate Memorial Association and Mr. Hurley are scheduled to go to trial in a civil action in D.C. Superior Court. Hurley said that the lawsuit was initiated by a Confederate group led by Richard Hines, the Cambodian lobbyist and a U.S. Government contractor. Another plaintiff in the case is Vicki Heilig, a U.S. Coast Guard computer employee with a security clearance. Hurley said that the plaintiffs were attempting to take over his organization and convert it to a political operation.
Hurley, who has countersued for $5 million, said that he was confidant that "the jury will see this case for what it is -- another example of high-powered politicians using heritage and history as a cover for illegal campaign contributions."
Department of Justice records show the semiannual Foreign Agents Report filed by Hines failed to mention that he had helped finance a 250,000-piece mailer for George W. Bush in the South Carolina primary. The Wall Street Journal and Newsweek magazine have reported that Hines made the critical last-minute mailing for Bush.
A Justice Department spokesman, citing the Foreign Agents Registration Act, said that the willful failure of a foreign agent to report expenditures in U.S. political campaigns is a criminal offense that could result in a $10,000 fine and 5 years in jail.