Next to its exaggeration of Al Gore’s “exaggerations” the rap most unfairly laid by the media on the vice president is that he was part of the corrupt fundraising excesses of the Clinton administration, ranging from the Lincoln bedroom sleepovers to the White House coffee to the solicitations from White House phones to what must have been an orgy at the Buddhist temple. What is fascinating about all of these scandals is that nowhere is there evidence of the real evil campaign finance laws are designed to prevent, the trading of money for influence.

The White House sleepovers and coffees represent the best, not the worse, way to repay contributors, rewarding them with hospitality but not a change in policy. As for the phone calls from the White House, does a solicitation become more virtuous because it is made from a phone across the street instead of from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue? The point again is: was there any evidence that a contribution from the phone calls influenced administration policy? If not, the calls were violations of technicalities but not the spirit of the law. As for the Buddhist temple, the evidence shows that the vice president and most of the people in attendance thought it was a rally not a fundraiser. Some contributions were made. But again there is no evidence that any of them influenced the administration.

Charles Peters

Charles Peters is the founding editor of the Washington Monthly.