DNC: Back to the Phones?

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WASHINGTON: The Thompson hearings are over, the coffee tapes have been rewound, and Democrats are seeing the light at the end of the campaign fundraising scandals. Unfortunately, there's a lawyer standing in front of it.

The Democratic Party ran up a legal bill of some $11 million keeping the Republicans (and Bob Woodward) at bay, DNC chairman Roy Romer said Tuesday. He accused the GOP of dragging the investigations out just to drain their rival's coffers for the '98 election drive. But Republicans aren't making apologies. "Expensive attorneys are not needed by those willing to cooperate and tell the truth," said Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind., chairman of the House investigation.

Yet if it was all a Republican ploy, it worked: the legal bill, of which $4.2 million is still unpaid, has driven the DNC some $12 million into debt with the '98 season just beginning. And that, as we know, will necessitate even more aggressive fundraising. Ah, Washington.