As the Clinton administration debated whether to allow U.S. satellites to be lofted into orbit aboard Chinese missiles, Bernard Schwartz, chairman of Loral Space & Communications, and Democratic fund-raiser Johnny Chung, allegedly using money from the Chinese army, gave more than $500,000 in soft money, ostensibly used for `party-building efforts,' to the Democrats.
The Justice Department and Congress are investigating how a technical report on the explosion of a Chinese missile in 1996--a report that could help China assess the reliability of its missile arsenal--found its way into the hands of the Chinese.
That report was prepared by employees of Loral, Hughes Electronics and other firms.
In a statement issued May 18, Loral said that `Bernard Schwartz, chairman of Loral Space & Communications Ltd. . . . was not personally involved in any aspect of this matter. No political favors or benefits of any kind were requested or extended, directly or indirectly, by any means whatever.'
The firm also declared that: `Allegations of a connection between the launch failure and a subsequent presidential authorization for use of Chinese launch services for another [Loral] satellite to China are without foundation.'
Nonetheless, Justice Department and congressional investigators are sure to scrutinize the chronology of gifts and decisions.
The time line does not prove any cause-and-effect relationship between donations and decisions. It does give investigators a basis for their criminal inquiry.
April 24, 1995: Loral chairman Schwartz gives $25,000 to the Democratic National Committee.
June 30, 1995: Schwartz gives $20,000 to Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which provide support for Democratic Senate candidates.
Aug. 30, 1995: Schwartz gives $75,000 to DNC.
Sept. 30, 1995: Schwartz gives $20,500 to DSCC.
Oct. 9, 1995: Secretary of State Warren Christopher decides satellites should remain a military munitions item.
Nov. 29, 1995: Schwartz gives $100,000 to DNC.
Nov. 29, 1995: A Chinese government agency writes Loral, asking for help in getting an upgrade for its dual-use imaging technology, exports of which are prohibited under U.S. sanctions.
Jan. 26, 1996: Loral is sold to Lockheed for $9 billion.
Feb. 6, 1996: Clinton approves the launch of four communications satellites on Chinese rockets.
Feb. 6, 1996: Wang Jun of CITIC, owners of percentages in Chinese satellite companies, visits the White House for coffee and dines with Commerce Secretary Ron Brown.
Feb. 8, 1996: The White House and Commerce Department begin to talk about the satellite export issue again.
Feb. 14, 1996: A Chinese rocket carrying Loral Intelsat satellite explodes, destroying a Chinese village.
Feb. 15, 1996: Schwartz gives $15,000 to DSCC.
Feb. 15, 1996: The State Department gets an urgent request from the White House to speed up the process of switching the satellite licensing to the Commerce Department.
Feb. 29, 1996: Schwartz gives $50,000 to Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which bankrolls Democratic House candidates.
March 8, 1996: China launches missiles.
March 14, 1996: Clinton decides to move the satellite licensing function to the Commerce Department.
March 15, 1996: Loral President J.A. Lindfelt writes Commerce to say the export of a dual-use technology, known as synthetic aperture radar, is being held up by the Defense, State and Commerce departments.
April 1996: Schwartz announces the formation of Loral Space and Communications.
April 24, 1996: Schwartz gives $50,000 to DSCC.
June 10, 1996: Schwartz gives $100,000 to DNC.
July 22, 1996: Liu Chao-Ying of China Aerospace meets Clinton with Johnny Chung.
July 31, 1996: Schwartz gives $5,000 to DSCC.
August 1996: Chung accounts show an influx of $300,000 from Liu Chao-Ying.
Aug. 18, 1996: Chung gives $20,000 to DNC to attend Clinton's birthday party.
Aug. 28, 1996: Chung gives $15,000 to DNC at Democratic National Convention in Chicago.
Sept. 16, 1996: Schwartz gives $30,000 to DSCC.
Sept. 20, 1996: Schwartz gives $20,000 to DSCC.
Oct. 16, 1996: Schwartz gives $10,000 to DSCC.
Oct. 18, 1996: Schwartz gives $70,000 to DNC.
Oct. 24, 1996: Schwartz gives $5,000 to DSCC.
Nov. 5, 1996: New guidelines on Commerce licensing of satellites are published.
Nov. 5, 1996: Clinton is elected to his second term as president.
Oct., 1997: A federal investigation of Loral begins.
Feb. 12, 1998: As Clinton ponders whether to sign another waiver allowing launch of a Loral satellite aboard a Chinese missile, National Security Adviser Sandy Berger sends him a memo saying the Justice Department `has cautioned that a national interest waiver in this case could have a significant adverse impact on any prosecution [of Loral] that might take place based on a pending investigation of export violation.'
But Berger adds that `the advantages of this project outweigh the risk,' and `it is inappropriate to penalize [Loral] before they have even been charged with any crime.'
Feb. 18, 1998: Clinton signs a waiver allowing Loral satellite to be lifted into orbit by the Chinese.