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Memo Reignites Gore Funding Issue

As the spotlight of public opinion focuses harshly on President Clinton and Kenneth Starr's grand jury investigation, his vice president, Al Gore, may have some worries of his own,.

According to The New York Times, Gore's account of his campaign fund-raising phone calls appear to be contradicted by handwritten notes on a White House memo obtained by the Justice Department.

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Unidentified government officials told the newspaper the notations on the memo indicate Gore and several campaign officials discussed how some of the large contributions he was raising meant only for general Democratic campaign purposes (or "soft money") would be diverted to accounts to directly finance the Clinton-Gore re-election effort (known as "hard money.")

The sources said the notes were written by an unidentified senior Gore aide, the Times reported.

The officials would not provide the notations on the memo, which referred to a Nov. 21, 1995, meeting. They would not say how the notes show Gore knew about plans for his fund-raising calls.

They also said that the notes were not conclusive evidence of what Gore knew about fund-raising activities and they did not provide details of the discussion at the meeting.

Attorney General Janet Reno has said telephone solicitations for "hard money" by Gore or President Clinton were subject to federal campaign finance laws and could be illegal.

But, in December, she absolved Gore of wrongdoing in regard to the phone calls, saying there was no evidence that he had raised funds for the campaign.

A Gore spokesman declined to comment to the Times. Gore has said he believed his solicitations were lawful and intended to raise "soft money" to be used only for general party purposes.

On Tuesday, from his vacation in Hawaii, Gore issued the following statement in defense of President Clinton:

Late last night I spoke to President Clinton and I expressed to him that I felt he showed courage in acknowledging his mistakes before the American people and accepting responsibility for his actions.

I am proud of him because he is a great president, and I am honored to have him as a friend.

Tipper and I keep him and his family in our thoughts and in our prayers.

I want to again express my strong support for the president, his leadership of this nation and the programs that have lead this country to unprecedented prosperity.

I am honored to work with President Clinton on his agenda for the nation, and I believe it is time to put this matter behind us once and for all and move forward with the business of the counry. Over the past 5 and 1/2 years President Clinton has led this country to great accomplishments in restoring our economic health, addressing long-neglected social problems and promoting America's strength in the world.

Now it is time to take what he said to heart and move on to the people's business.