Freshmen Lawmakers Find Their Posts Lucrative
MEMBERS of Congress's largest freshman class in decades, swept into office on a wave of public anger at Washington, didn't take long to find the Capital's money trail.
The newcomers - especially those who landed assignments on the most influential House committees - tapped lobbyists, lawyers, consultants, and political action committees for campaign funds, a review of more than a dozen 1993 campaign finance reports showed.
``Their campaign finance profiles represent literally business as usual,'' said Ellen Miller of the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonprofit group that monitors political money.
Lynn Schenk, a California Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which will consider health care reform this year, raised nearly $400,000 in 1993. More than half, $234,000, came from special interest groups, while substantial amounts came in individual donations from lobbyists.
Labor invested heavily in Representative Schenk's reelection. The United Auto Workers provided $13,500; the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees gave $12,000; the Machinists donated $5,000; and the electrical workers and seafarers gave $4,000 each.
The 115 freshman House members were elected by a public angry over congressional scandals and the influence of special interests. Polls showed voters believed Congress had lost touch with average Americans, and many nonincumbents ran on anti-Washington platforms.
Usually, challengers attract few donations from PACs, the donating arms of special interest lobbies. But once they're elected, Washington insiders line up to win their attention.
In an interview, Schenk said she has been a strong proponent of reforming the campaign finance system and of putting curbs on lobbyists' gift giving. The freshman who won the rarest assignment, a seat on the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee, did well with financial and health interests. Rep. Mel Reynolds (D) of Illinois, took in $220,000 for the year, including $5,000 from the ophthalmologists, $4,000 from commodity futures brokers and $2,500 from the dentists' PAC.
Fundraising went so well that Mr. Reynolds was able to pay himself back in a little over two months for most of a $30,000 loan he made to his campaign.
Profits in Clintons' Whitewater
THE money-losing Arkansas real estate venture that has entangled the first family in a federal investigation began generating a small income months before president and Mrs. Clinton sold their interest.
The Clintons decided not to take any of the money before ending their 14-year relationship with Whitewater Development Corp. in December 1992, one of their lawyers told The Associated Press.
In May 1992, Whitewater paid off its remaining loans, enabling it to begin making a little money. Since then, those proceeds - which total less than $200 a month - have gone to the Clintons' former business partner, James McDougal.
The Clintons have said they invested and lost nearly $69,000 during their years as co-owners of Whitewater.
They formed the venture in 1978 with Mr. McDougal and his then-wife, Susan, to build a bustling vacation and retirement community on the banks of the White River in northern Arkansas's Ozark Mountains.
The venture is now a focus of a federal investigation into a failed Arkansas savings and loan owned by McDougal and other business dealings with ties to the Clintons.
The Clintons sold their half of Whitewater to McDougal in December 1992 for $1,000. They have said they never made any money on their investment. During most of the Clintons' involvement in Whitewater, revenues from the venture went to pay off principal and interest on the original $203,000 mortgage the two couples used to buy the property.