For Sale: Nice Neighborhood, Good Security

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WASHINGTON, D.C.: Did Democratic fund-raisers sell jobs and federal appointments for cash? A memo written in April, 1994 by an unidentified fund-raiser, and kept in the files of former senior White House advisor Harold Ickes, flatly stated that in order to reach a fundraising goal of $40 million, the Democratic party needed White House support, among other things, for "Better coordination on appointments to boards and commissions.Ē Ickes gave the memo to Congress. Trying for positive spin as the news got progressively worse, the Democratic National Committee said Friday that it is returning another $1.5 million in improper campaign contributions from 77 donors, bringing the total returned so far to $3 million. Party Chair Roy Romer told reporters that the DNC is formulating some new rules to ensure that in the future fund raising will stay within the bounds of propriety. Maybe so, but the new rules merely state the obvious: donít break the law. Democratic fund-raisers, for example, are instructed not to convey the impression that contributors can influence government actions or policy (which is already illegal), and are advised to be careful screening guests who are invited to White House events (obvious). The 'new' guidelines looked especially thin after the release Friday of the Ickes memo, which directly links specific perks, such as White House visits and seats on Air Force One, to raising a specific amount of cash. "In order to reach our very aggressive goal of $40 million this year, it would be helpful if we could coordinate the following activities," said the memo to former DNC employee Martha Phipps. White House officials have acknowledged that they used events there to encourage and reward donors, but they maintain that no solicitation of money ever occurred at the executive mansion. It is illegal to solicit donations on federal property. But whether or not donations were discussed while on the property is of course not the point; it's clear that a connection was implied. And that's perhaps the most damning part of the whole mess: that Clinton, more so than any other President, has put the uniquely American institution of the White House up for sale.