SENATE Rept. 105-167 - 105th Congress 2d Session - March 10, 1998

MINORITY VIEWS OF SENATORS GLENN, LEVIN, LIEBERMAN, AKAKA, DURBIN, TORRICELLI AND CLELAND Chapter 6: Michael Kojima........................................ 5413 Findings..................................................... 5413 Contribution History......................................... 5415 Kojima's Access to the White House and Other Perks........... 5415 The Bush White House and Fundraising......................... 5418 GOP Claimed No Duty to Investigate........................... 5423 Foreign Funds................................................ 5425 Failure to Conduct a Federal Investigation................... 5427 Conclusion................................................... 5428 Chapter 6: Michael Kojima Michael Kojima first gained public notice as a ``deadbeat dad'' who failed to pay child support but gave $500,000 to the Republican Party to sit with President Bush at a fundraising dinner. His story has since gained importance as an example of a little known contributor whose large contribution should have been investigated before being accepted and should be returned now. His dealings with the Republican Party and Bush White House contradict claims that accepting foreign contributions, providing access to large contributors, and using the White House for fundraising purposes are unprecedented practices confined to one party. findings (1) Michael Kojima contributed substantial sums to the Republican Party in order to gain access for himself and his associates to President Bush and Bush Administration officials and the help of U.S. embassies abroad. With the help of a Republican fundraising organization, the Presidential Roundtable, and because of his status as a contributor, Kojima obtained access to U.S. embassy and foreign officials to advance his private business interests. (2) Kojima's $500,000 contribution to the Republican Party appears to have been derived from foreign funds. As a result of his substantial contributions, Kojima was able to bring ten Japanese nationals with him to a 1992 dinner with President Bush. According to some of those foreign nationals, they provided Kojima with significant sums of money for the express purpose of facilitating their attendance at the dinner. (3) The RNC has improperly retained $215,000 in apparent foreign funds contributed by Kojima. (4) The Republican Party failed to conduct an adequate investigation of Kojima even when it had information that the source of the funds was questionable. Michael Kojima is a Japanese-born, naturalized U.S. citizen. After immigrating to the United States in or around 1970, he worked as a chef in the Los Angeles area and eventually became president of a partnership called 2M Management Co., Ltd., which owned and operated several Chinese restaurants.1 In 1987, 2M Management obtained three loans totaling $655,000 from the Bank of Trade, a financial institution later purchased by the Lippo Group.2 In 1989, 2M Management defaulted, and the bank was unable to collect the amounts owed.3 --------------------------------------------------------------------------- Footnotes at end of chapter. --------------------------------------------------------------------------- In 1990, Kojima formed a California corporation called International Marketing Bureau, Ltd. (``IMB'').4 He was the president, his wife was the treasurer, and his attorney, T.J. Pantaleo, was company secretary.5 IMB apparently never opened its own office or hired employees.6 Documents requiring a business address used the address of Kojima's attorney's office or his wife's business, the Association for Refining Cross-Culture, a nonprofit student-exchange program.7 Kojima first gained public notice when he appeared on television seated with President George Bush at the 1992 President's Dinner, a fundraising event which raised $9 million for Republican Senate and House candidates. Kojima was publicly identified as the event's largest contributor. Kojima's $500,000 contribution provoked immediate controversy 8 due to a history of nonpayment of child support, over $1 million in unpaid court judgments owed to former wives and creditors, and his apparent lack of assets. The Los Angeles Times reported that one ex-wife had been searching for Kojima for five years to pay $700 per month in child support, while another had ``given up searching for the purportedly poverty-stricken Kojima--until he showed up with the President.'' 9 A month after learning of the $500,000 donation, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office issued an arrest warrant for Kojima for nonpayment of child support, describing him as ``America's most wanted deadbeat dad.'' 10 The Washington Post reported that, aside from unpaid child support, Kojima had ``a string of bad debt claims totaling more than $1 million from previous business ventures.'' 11 The New York Times reported that one creditor's attorney ``thought Mr. Kojima had no assets,'' while another creditor's attorney, after learning of the Kojima contribution, felt his ```blood began to boil''. . . since Mr. Kojima had declared bankruptcy to avoid paying his debts.'' 12 Kojima was repeatedly described as an unknown figure in political, business, and Japanese-American circles. The Republican Party was unable to answer questions raised about Kojima. One newspaper reported: When the flurry of questions arose last week, even a Republican spokesman [Rich Galen] could shed little light on Kojima's identity. . . . ``One could say you should require some further proof of where the money comes from'' before taking a check as large as Kojima's, he said, ``but that's not the way life is.'' ``It's a little difficult to cross-examine a man who's a major donor,'' Galen said.13 After lawsuits were filed by Kojima's creditors and two former wives to take possession of the $500,000, the Republican Senate-House Dinner Committee, which formally sponsored the dinner and accepted the Kojima contribution, deposited the $500,000 into an escrow account and consolidated the cases before a federal court in the District of Columbia.14 After two years of litigation and an unfavorable court ruling, 15 the Republican Dinner Committee settled out of court.16 Under the 1994 settlement, Kojima's creditors and a former wife received $285,000 plus accumulated interest, while the Republican Dinner Committee retained $215,000, which was paid into a newly created ``President's Dinner 1992 Trust & Building Fund.'' 17 Kojima did not participate in the litigation. In October 1992, he was briefly arrested for nonpayment of child support, but released from jail after agreeing to pay more than $120,000 in fines and payments to two former wives.18 He then virtually disappeared from public view. Attempts by the Committee to locate him proved unsuccessful. CONTRIBUTION HISTORY Prior to the 1992 election cycle, Federal Election Commission (``FEC'') records indicate that Kojima, his family, and businesses made occasional contributions to the Republican Party, with the largest in 1988 in the amount of $4,000 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee (``NRSC'). FEC records then show a sudden increase in the number and size of contributions during the 1992 election cycle. By the President's Dinner in April, Kojima-related contributions totaled over $600,000. After the President's Dinner and resulting controversy, FEC records show no further contributions. FEC records show no Kojima-related contributions to the Democratic Party or Democratic candidates. The specific contributions listed in Federal Election Commission records during the 1992 election cycle are as follows: $5,000 contributed by IMB to the NRSC on February 19, 1991; $90,000 contributed by IMB to the 1991 President's Dinner, made in two payments with the first for $15,000 on April 12, 1991, and the second for $75,000 on May 24, 1991; $3,000 contributed by Mr. and Mrs. Kojima to the campaign committee of Senator Frank Murkowski of Alaska on October 24, 1991; $30,000 contributed by IMB to the NRSC on March 6, 1992, later recorded as returned on April 1, 1992 due to insufficient funds; $8,770 in the form of an in-kind contribution by IMB to the NRSC on April 1, 1992, for a National Museum for Women in the Arts dinner in connection with the NRSC's Presidential Roundtable Spring Forum; $500,000 contributed to the 1992 President's Dinner made in three payments, with the first for $200,000 on March 6, 1992, the second for $200,000 on March 16, 1992, and the third for $100,000 on April 22, 1992.19 KOJIMA'S ACCESS TO THE WHITE HOUSE AND OTHER PERKS Although the Committee was unable to locate Kojima to question him, documents,20 interviews conducted by Committee investigators,21 and sworn depositions from the 1992 court case 22 provide detailed information about Kojima's contributions and dealings with the GOP. These materials paint a revealing picture of GOP fundraising practices during the Bush Administration and are attached as exhibits to this chapter. The documents indicate that Kojima's primary association with the Republican Party was through the Republican Presidential Roundtable. The Roundtable is a Republican fundraising organization which requires an annual contribution of $5,000.23 A 1992 brochure for prospective members states: Designed especially to promote one-on-one personal relationships, the Presidential Roundtable allows members to participate in the development of policy as well as help forge close friendships with Washington's top decisionmakers. . . . [G]atherings often include receptions with the President or Vice President and always include meetings with Republican Senators, Cabinet Officers, senior White House officials and select leaders of our national and international political and business communities.24 Member benefits included two Washington policy fora each year in which, the brochure states, members can discuss issues ``directly with U.S. Senators, Administration officials and major business leaders,'' and attend ``receptions and private dinners held in premier restaurants, exclusive clubs, historic locations and even in Senators' homes.'' 25 Also provided were ``Ambassador Club'' trips abroad ``to bring top American businessmen and women together with their counterparts in Europe and Asia.'' The brochure states that, during a 1991 trip to England, Roundtable members met with ``Members of the British Cabinet, Members of Parliament, the American Ambassador to Great Britain and various lords and ladies who hosted private dinners at their estates.'' During the 1992 election cycle, the director of the Roundtable was Lisa DeGrandi, an experienced Republican fundraiser who previously worked in the Reagan White House and for the RNC. 26 Her immediate supervisor was the finance director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Albert Mitchler.27 When interviewed by Committee staff, DeGrandi recalled that Kojima was already a Roundtable member when she was hired in 1989. She remembered his requesting and her providing a number of letters to assist him with his private business dealings. She told Committee investigators that, ``because Kojima had given a great deal of money to the [Republican Presidential Roundtable], it was important for her to do what she could ``to keep him happy'' in order to maintain his membership.'' She indicated that ``it was not uncommon for many of the individual [Roundtable] members to use their memberships to market themselves and/or their businesses.'' 28 DeGrandi confirmed that she signed letters of support from the Republican Presidential Roundtable on behalf of Kojima addressed to U.S. embassy officials, foreign officials, and even heads of state. She estimated sending ``15-20'' such letters, 29 of which the Committee has obtained copies of over a dozen, including: two letters from DeGrandi to the U.S. ambassador to Japan dated June 7, 1991 and March 6, 1992; three letters to officials at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo dated June 7, 18, and 20, 1991; a letter to the chief secretary of Hong Kong dated August 8, 1991; a letter to the Hong Kong chief secretary dated August 8, 1991; a general letter of support with no specific addressee dated August 12, 1991; a letter to a member of the Japanese Parliament dated October 15, 1991; a letter to the U.S. consul general in Hong Kong dated October 15, 1991; a letter to the U.S. Consulate in Hong Kong in the fall of 1991; a letter to the prime minister of Japan dated March 9, 1992, and a letter to Deng Xiaoping, leader of the People's Republic of China, dated March 9, 1992. The letters use stationery containing a circular logo at the top resembling the presidential seal and an italicized heading on the left naming Presidents Bush, Reagan, and Ford as ``honorary members.'' The text generally begins with the statement, ``I am writing on behalf of Mr. Michael Kojima, President of International Marketing Bureau,'' and describes him as ``one of the executive members of the Presidential Roundtable, a business advisory group to President George Bush and the administration.'' Many of the letters describe a specific business venture, such as a Hong Kong airport project, that Kojima was pursuing. The letters then ask for a meeting or alert the recipient that Kojima would be contacting them. Many invoke President Bush by name, stating that Kojima has met or would be meeting with the President or indicating that a copy of the letter was being forwarded to the President. In the two March 9 letters addressed to foreign leaders, DeGrandi wrote that Kojima will be carrying a ``message from the President of the United States that he will share with you upon your meeting him.'' Other documents indicate that DeGrandi's efforts played a key role in Kojima's obtaining meetings with top U.S. officials. An internal State Department cable dated June 15, 1991, for example, from the State Department in Washington to the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo regarding Kojima cites his GOP connections: Lisa DeGrandi of the Republican National Committee asked for followup on her fax to you dated June 7. . . . The Committee is eager to assist Mr. Kojima in getting an appointment with Ambassador Armacost (Ms. DeGrandi sent a letter directly to the Ambassador as well.). A meeting took place at the embassy on June 24, attended by Kojima, his business associate, and two senior embassy officials. A memorandum drafted by Embassy personnel summarizing the meeting begins: ``This appointment was set up by Ms. Lisa DeGrandi, Director of the Presidential Roundtable (see attached correspondence). We met first with Mr. Kojima alone at his request. He explained his close ties with the Republican Party and the importance of this project to Republican Party campaign financing.'' A memorandum drafted by Embassy personnel summarizing a March 19, 1992, meeting attended by Kojima, his business associates, and U.S. Ambassador to Japan Michael Armacost, begins the same way: ``This appointment was set up by Ms. Lisa Degrandi, Director of the Presidential Roundtable (see attached correspondence).'' DeGrandi herself has been quoted as saying, ``If I hadn't helped him, [Kojima] wouldn't have gotten his calls returned.'' 30 The documents identify nine meetings between Kojima and U.S. officials facilitated by DeGrandi. Six were at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo on June 24 and 26, July, September 30, and October 4, 1991, and March 19, 1992. One was at the U.S. Consulate in Hong Kong in the fall of 1991; another with the U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom at the ambassador's residence in London on September 25, 1991; and one with U.S. Treasury officials in Washington, D.C., in March 1992. An Associated Press article by Michael Hirsh and Yuri Kageyama on May 15, 1992, describing Kojima's foreign business dealings and contributions to the Republican Party, includes this statement from a U.S. official in Hong Kong: When President Bush's people say give this guy the time of day, we give him the time of day. We did our best and got him the meetings he wanted. . . . We called and set up appointments for him and for the group. He probably couldn't have gotten through the door without the consulate.31 The letters, faxes, and telephone calls provided by the Republican Presidential Roundtable on behalf of Kojima to further his private business interests have no logical explanation other than Kojima's contributor status.32 The fact that the Roundtable wrote letters to two foreign leaders and invoked President Bush's name to encourage a private meeting with Kojima illustrates the lengths to which GOP fundraisers went in 1992 to assist large contributors. THE BUSH WHITE HOUSE AND FUNDRAISING The documents also illustrate the GOP's use of the White House and access to the president and other senior government officials for fundraising purposes. Kojima's $500,000 contribution to the 1992 President's Dinner, five times larger than any previous contribution he had made, is one of the largest contributions to a political party by an individual ever recorded by the FEC. Documents related to the making of this contribution demonstrate GOP fundraising practices at the time. A sworn deposition provided by the executive director of the 1992 President's Dinner, Elizabeth Ekonomou, 33 describes her interactions with Kojima. Ekonomou testified that she was first introduced to him by DeGrandi at an October 1991 lunch at the Watergate Hotel. She said that she met Kojima, his wife, and two associates who did not appear to speak English. She testified that Kojima indicated at that lunch that he was interested in contributing to the 1992 Dinner and ``talked about his participation in the neighborhood of $300,000.'' 34 Apparently because of the size of his pledge, 35 Kojima was made a ``co-chairman'' of the 1992 Dinner, one of about two dozen persons given that title by the Dinner Committee. On February 1, 1992, invitations to the 1992 President' Dinner went out in a mass mailing over President Bush's signature. The cover letter, signed by President Bush, states in part: Together, we will join with Vice President and Mrs. Quayle, Republican dignitaries, and key supporters, like you, to raise the funds necessary to elect more Republicans to the U.S. House of Representatives and to the United States Senate. . . . Barbara and I look forward to seeing you. . . . The invitation included a separate sheet listing ticket prices. It indicates that individuals may purchase a dinner ticket for $1,500 or tickets for a ten-person table for $15,000, while corporations were required to pay $2,000 for a single ticket and $20,000 for a table. The invitation also included a document entitled ``Benefits for Tablebuyers.'' This document states that a tablebuyer is entitled to attend a ``Private Reception hosted by President and Mrs. Bush at The White House'' or a ``Reception hosted by The President's Cabinet.'' In addition, a tablebuyer is entitled to attend a ``Luncheon hosted by Vice President and Mrs. Quayle'' and a ``Senate-House Leadership Breakfast hosted by Senator Bob Dole and Congressman Bob Michel.'' The tablebuyer also has an ``Option to request a Member of the House of Representatives to complete the table of ten. With purchase of a second table, option to request one Senator or one Senior Administration Official.'' A similar document entitled ``Benefits for Tablebuyers and Fundraisers,'' was sent by the dinner committee to the co- chairmen of the dinner. It lists a range of benefits for the most successful fundraisers. Fundraisers who sell ``two tables'' receive the same benefits as tablebuyers plus attendance at a ``Reception with Senator Bob Dole at U.S. Capitol.'' Fundraisers who raise ``$92,000 and above'' receive a ``Photo Opportunity with President Bush.'' ``Top Fundraisers'' are promised all of the listed benefits plus the ``Opportunity to be seated at a head table with The President or Vice President based on ticket sales.'' The document warns, ``Note: Attendance at all events is limited. Benefits based on receipts.'' Of all the documents examined by the Committee, this document contains perhaps the most explicit offers of access in exchange for large contributions. It states outright that fundraisers receive ``[b]enefits based upon receipts.'' It states explicitly that seating with the President will be ``based on ticket sales.'' It offers GOP fundraising receptions at government facilities including the White House, the Vice President's Residence, and the U.S. Capitol. It promises fundraisers access to the most senior Republican officials including the President, Vice President, cabinet officers, and the Senate and House minority leaders. ``Tablebuyers'' are given the option of requesting a Member of Congress or ``Senior Administration Official'' to sit at their tables. The offer of access to important government officials in exchange for contributions could hardly be more blatant. The documents also demonstrate how these fundraising strategies were employed by the Republican Party to encourage large contributions. On February 5, 1992, a memorandum to Kojima from the dinner chairman, former Senator Howard Baker of Tennessee, promised a meeting with the President for attending an event devoted to making fundraising calls for the dinner: The White House has just confirmed Monday, March 9th on The President's schedule for a special meeting with The 1992 Dinner Deputy and Co-Chairmen. As in past years, we will gather for a Strategy Session in which we will make some recruiting calls and hear updates from the House and Senate. It would be very helpful if, in preparation for this meeting, you would put together a list of individuals you would like to contact that day . . . [P]lease clear your calendar for this unique opportunity to work together to reach our goals. I look forward to seeing you on March 9th. A similar memorandum, dated February 5, from Senator Baker to another dinner co-chairman, James R. Elliott, is even more explicit: ``I would like to invite you to join the [dinner co- chairmen] for this meeting with The President.'' 36 A followup letter dated February 19, 1992, from Senator Baker to Kojima, expresses thanks for ``agreeing to serve as a Co-Chairman by pledging $300,000 to The 1992 President's Dinner. I look forward to seeing you on March 9.'' A similar letter dated February 19, was sent to Elliott. On February 21, the Dinner Committee sent the first in a series of weekly memoranda from Senator Baker to the dinner co- chairmen reporting on fundraising and urging additional contributions. Entitled ``Finance Report,'' the February 21 memorandum states: With just 67 days until April 28th [the date of the dinner], we have reached a critical point in our fundraising efforts. It is essential that you make your recruiting calls now so there is time for the commitments to be fulfilled. . . . I hope I'll be seeing you in Washington on March 9th. . . . A February 28 ``Finance Report'' from Senator Baker to the dinner co-chairmen states: ``There are only 60 days until April 28th! . . . I would like to see all Co-Chairmen on board before the March 9th Strategy Session so they will be able to attend the meeting. This is an opportunity to show strong support for President Bush when we report our progress to him at the end of the day of calls.'' Kojima made his first contribution to the Dinner on March 6, three days before the White House meeting. The check from his company, IMB, is for $200,000. March 6 is also the date of a letter from DeGrandi of the Republican Presidential Roundtable to the U.S. ambassador to Japan requesting a meeting for Kojima. The letter states, ``As also a Co-Chairman of the President's Dinner, Mr. Kojima met with the President regarding a balance between the United States and Japan and working to a new world order. Mr. Kojima will be meeting with the Prime Minister while in Japan and at that time he has requested to meet with you.'' This letter has a handwritten notation on it, ``Has he called?'' The requested meeting between the ambassador and Kojima took place two weeks later, on March 19.37 President Bush's public schedule confirms that on March 9, he met ``in the Roosevelt Room with members of the National Republican Senatorial and Congressional Committee[s] to discuss the President's Dinner.'' 38 A ``Tentative Agenda'' for the March 9th Strategy Session also cites this White House meeting: 10:30 a.m. ``Briefing and Strategy Session'' with Dinner Chairman Senator Baker at the Hay Adams Hotel 12:30 p.m. ``Lunch with the Vice President and Cabinet Members'' at the hotel 2:30 p.m. ``Strategy Session (Part II)'' at the hotel 3:30 p.m. ``Depart for the White House'' 4:00 p.m. ``Meeting with the President'' at ``The White House'' Clearly, the dinner committee used the promise of a White House meeting with the President, as well as a luncheon with the Vice President and Cabinet members, to convince the individuals serving as its co-chairmen to fly to Washington and spend several hours making telephone fundraising calls to potential contributors. Kojima apparently not only attended the March 9 strategy session and White House meeting with the President, he also visited DeGrandi at the Republican Presidential Roundtable and obtained letters on his behalf to the leaders of Japan and China. The two letters, each dated March 9, contain the identical sentence: ``I met with Mr. Kojima while he was here in Washington, D.C. before he met with President Bush at the White House.'' Both also state that Kojima has a ``message from the President of the United States that he will share with you upon your meeting him.'' On March 13, the dinner committee sent another ``Finance Report'' to its co-chairmen. The memorandum states: ``One hundred tables were sold last Monday at the Strategy Session, making it the most successful ever. . . . In order to insure reaching our goals, it is still necessary to keep recruiting. However, it is also time to start turning pledges into receipts.'' On March 16, Kojima signed a second IMB check contributing $200,000 to the dinner. His wife, Chiey Nomura Kojima, sent the check to the dinner's executive director, Ekonomou, with a cover letter stating that ``we have provided a check in the amount of $200,000 to support Bush administration for re- election,'' even though dinner contributions were supposed to be used to elect Republican Members of Congress rather than to re-elect President Bush. On March 20, the dinner committee issued its weekly Finance Report to the co-chairmen. The memorandum states: ``I want to remind you that the individual who raises the most money in actual receipts by Friday, April 24 will have the honor of saluting President Bush with a special toast during The Dinner. As of today, the following are in contention for the toast to The President: ``1. Mike Kojima--Receipts $400,000 . . . .'' [Original emphasis.]'' The memorandum lists six other individuals as well, but none has ``receipts'' approaching $400,000. The March 27 Finance Report states: ``32 DAYS AND COUNTING! We are at $5.7 million in pledges and receipts. Keep on working. Remember that the top fundraisers and their spouse or guest will be invited to sit at the head tables.'' On April 1, 1992, FEC records indicate that IMB made an in- kind contribution of $8,770 to the NRSC for a National Museum for Women in the Arts dinner in connection with a Presidential Roundtable Spring Forum.39 A February 27 letter offering tickets to the Spring Forum for $265 per person or $530 per couple states: ``The day concludes with our reception and dinner with President Bush at the historical National Museum for Women in the Arts.'' President Bush's public schedule confirms that he and his wife attended.40 DeGrandi recalled that Kojima sponsored the event by paying for the museum rental,41 and a handwritten note from Kojima's wife states that she and her husband ``sponsored and hosted it.'' 42 The documents do not indicate whether Kojima sat at the head table with the President or offered a toast. On April 3, the dinner committee sent its weekly Finance Report to the co-chairmen. The memorandum states: ``With only 25 days until The Dinner, now is the critical time for us to focus on turning pledges into receipts. The toast and headtable standings are shaping up as follows: ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Pledges/ Receipts Receipts ------------------------------------------------------------------------ 1. Mike Kojima.......................... $400,000 $450,000 2. Bill Schreyer........................ 258,000 877,500 3. Carl Lindner......................... 250,000 250,000 ------------------------------------------------------------------------ The memorandum lists 11 names in all. The next two Finance Reports, dated April 10 and 17, also provide prospective ``Headtable seating arrangements'' based upon actual receipts. The April 10 report lists Kojima, with $400,000 in receipts, as the fourth and final fundraiser to be seated with the President. However, the April 17 report--the final report before the dinner--shows Kojima as having dropped in the ``standings'' and lists him as being seated at the Vice President's table. A fax and memorandum dated April 20, 1992, from Ekonomou to Kojima, also place him at the Vice President's table. Entitled, ``Dinner and Special Events Attendees,'' the memorandum states: ``Thank you for the list of individuals planning to attend The Dinner and the Special Events that day. Because of their intimate nature, the two receptions where it is not appropriate for your photographer to accompany you are the Oval Office Reception and the Headtable Reception. As of today, it looks as if you and your wife will be seated at The Vice President's Headtable. This leaves 23 guests . . . to be seated at your 3 tables. We have placed Senator and Mrs. Murkowski at table #1 and Senator and Mrs. Seymour at table #2, which brings your total attendees to 27. If you would like a VIP at your 3rd table, please let us know.'' On April 22, 1992, Kojima signed a third check for $100,000 made out to the President's Dinner. Unlike the first two checks, this contribution was not from an IMB account, but from Kojima's personal account. His total contribution of $500,000 was the largest from any individual at the dinner; his competing fundraisers had raised their sums from more than one source. As a result of his last-minute contribution, Kojima and his wife were seated at the head table with President Bush.43 Kojima was listed in the dinner program as one of 24 deputy chairmen and co-chairmen of the event. The program describes the dinner as ``the single largest fundraising event in history for Republican House and Senate candidates.'' Television coverage showed the President greeting Mrs. Kojima with a kiss on the cheek when joining the table.44 Kojima's contribution was also widely reported, leading to the lawsuits filed by his past wives and creditors. The facts surrounding the 1992 Republican President's Dinner provide important information about GOP use of the White House to encourage fundraising. The Dinner invitations explicitly promise a White House reception with the President and First Lady in exchange for contributions. Dinner co- chairmen who made fundraising calls for the dinner met with the President in the White House's Roosevelt Room and lunched with the Vice President and Cabinet members. Top fundraisers attended a special, exclusive reception in the Oval Office. Videotapes of the March 9 meeting in the Roosevelt Room and the April 28 Oval Office reception likely exist, and the Minority made requests to view the videotapes. The Majority, however, refused to support these requests on the ground that such events were outside the scope of an investigation into the 1996 elections. But evidence documenting the Bush Administration's use of the White House to facilitate fundraising is critical to evaluating whether the Clinton Administration's use of the White House was in line with precedent.45 gop claimed no duty to investigate One issue examined by the Committee during its hearings is to what extent parties have an obligation to investigate persons offering large contributions. The Republican Party provided its views when Kojima's $500,000 contribution became public and questions arose regarding his status as a debtor and ``deadbeat dad'' who may have lacked the financial resources for such a large donation. The Republican Party responded that it had no duty to investigate or verify his contribution. Rich Galen, spokesman for the Republican President's Dinner, told the press at the time, ``There's no requirement in practice or in law that a political organization or charitable organization get any kind of statement from a donor as to the origins of the money.'' 46 Deposition testimony provided a year later by Ekonomou, an experienced Republican fundraiser and the Dinner's executive director, establishes that GOP fundraisers believed they had no obligation to investigate any contributor or contribution. Ekonomou stated under oath: Q. Did the Dinner Committee do any kind of background search or verification regarding its top fundraisers? A. No. Q. Do you believe that the Dinner Committee has responsibility to do any kind of background verification or search about its fundraisers or top fundraisers? A. No. Q. In light of your experience and the concern that was raised in you after revelations of Mr. Kojima's outside activities, you continue to have no belief that the Dinner Committee has any kind of obligation to do any verification of the background of its top fundraisers? A. I do not believe that the President's Dinner has any obligation to get background information on its top fundraisers.47 Jan Baran, legal counsel for the dinner committee and also long-time legal counsel to the RNC and other Republican Party organizations, put it even more forcefully in 1993 legal pleadings filed with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia: [P]olitical organizations such as the [Republican Dinner] Committee must be able to receive and use contributions. If they were required to investigate all contributors and establish a pedigree for all contributions, their First Amendment protected activities would be seriously handicapped. . . . The Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, as amended, imposes no burden upon political organizations to investigate the solvency of contributors.48 The unequivocal position of the dinner's legal counsel, executive director, and spokesman is powerful evidence that, in the years prior to the start of the 1996 election cycle, GOP fundraisers believed they had no legal obligation to investigate either contributors or suspect contributions. This position is clearly relevant to understanding the actions of fundraisers during the 1996 cycle who also failed to investigate particular contributions and to evaluating the propriety of those actions. The documents do show, however, that as media inquiries about Kojima intensified in the period before the April 28 dinner, the dinner committee made one attempt to obtain more information about Kojima and the source of his funds. A memorandum dated April 24, 1992, to Senator Baker from Ekonomou and Galen provides this account: Chuck Babcock of the Washington Post has called numerous times, over the past two days, regarding the donations of Mr. Kojima. Mr. Kojima is listed as one of the largest donors to The Dinner in the FEC report which was filed on April 15. . . . Babcock has been unable to find out any information regarding Mr. Kojima which raised his interest. . . . He had the Post's Los Angeles bureau check Secretary of State documents in California and found the only reference to a ``Michael Kojima'' one who was a chef and owned, at one time, a series of restaurants. His further research indicated that the address listed as the headquarters of International Marketing Bureau was also the address of one of the restaurants owned by the Michael Kojima he could find. . . . His specific concerns . . . ``How do you know whether these checks come from the assets of his corporation or whether they are the result of laundered money?' This question raised our concerns to the point where we placed a call to Mr. Kojima and asked him about his business. Mr. Kojima, in a phone conversation with Rich and Betsy said: (1) His business is ``international marketing''; (2) He has clients in ``various countries'' including: The USA, Japan, Hong Kong and Israel; (3) He is involved in ``organizing consortiums'' for ``national projects'' such as airports and telecommunications systems. . . . (4) We specifically asked him the source of funds which are represented by the checks he has sent. He was asked if they were from corporate proceeds or ``from individuals who had chosen to donate to The Dinner.'' His specific answer was that the checks were ``corporate assets, my own corporation assets.'' We feel much more comfortable now, having spoken to Mr. Kojima: --That we have taken reasonable steps to ensure the funds he has sent to The Dinner are from a legitimate source; --That he understood the nature of our concerns; and, --That he answered our questions with no hint of evasion.49 This memorandum indicates that, prior to the dinner, the Republican dinner committee knew that Kojima was engaged in international business, that the business address he had provided for IMB was the address of a California restaurant, and that the lack of ready information about him and his business had raised concerns that he lacked the funds to make a $500,000 contribution and might be ``laundering'' money for someone else. When the press raised these red flags, the dinner committee's senior personnel telephoned Kojima to ask him about the funds used for his contribution. He responded that he was using corporate funds, yet the day before the committee had received his personal check for $100,000. They also failed to ask him whether he or his company, whose business was international marketing, was utilizing foreign funds. In addition, despite having a list of 23 persons that Kojima was inviting to the dinner as his guests, including at least ten foreign nationals, the dinner committee never asked Kojima if he was using funds supplied by his guests to finance the $500,000. foreign funds If the Republican Dinner Committee had asked, it might have discovered the evidence that emerged in early 1997 indicating that the Kojima contribution was being financed, in whole or in part, with foreign money. Kojima brought 23 guests to the 1992 President's Dinner.50 In a July 7, 1997, broadcast and subsequent materials posted on its website, CBS News revealed that these guests included ten Japanese citizens who flew in from Tokyo for the dinner.51 Five were Japanese businessmen, three of whom stated, according to CBS News, that they had paid Kojima significant sums of money to attend the President's Dinner. For example, Shuuichi Nakagawa told CBS said that he attended the dinner as a Kojima guest and that Kojima asked him for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Takashi Kimoto, a real estate company owner, reportedly stated that he ``KNOWS his money went to the GOP.'' 52 [Original emphasis.] CBS News also released a document apparently provided by one or more of the Japanese businessmen. Printed in English and Japanese, the English version appears on IMB letterhead, is entitled ``Receipt,'' and is addressed to Tsunekasu Teramoto, a person known to work with Kojima and IMB.53 The next line of the document is the word ``Participant:'' followed by a blank line. The text states: ``Your Participation for 1992 President's Dinner will be the minimum requirement of donation at one Hundred Seventy-Five Thousand (US $175,000) U.S. Dollars.'' The document instructs the money to be remitted to IMB, providing the location and number of a specific bank account, which is the same bank account number that appears on the two IMB checks providing $400,000 to the Republican Dinner Committee. Below the remittance instructions is a blank signature line over: ``Michael Kojima, Co-Chairman.'' If authentic, the document suggests that Kojima was using his status as a co-chairman of the President's Dinner to obtain huge sums of money from foreign sources in exchange for arranging attendance at the dinner. Given Kojima's apparent lack of assets, the explanation offered by the Japanese businessmen for the source of Kojima's $500,000 contribution, their attendance at the President's Dinner, and the English/Japanese receipt bearing IMB's specific bank account number are, together, strong evidence that the Kojima contribution utilized illegal foreign funds. Yet, despite requests from the Minority, the Majority refused to allow Committee investigators to interview any of the Japanese businessmen or investigate their allegations. The Majority also refused to issue a subpoena for bank records associated with IMB or Kojima bank accounts, which might have established the deposit of foreign funds into these accounts. Some of these bank records were produced in connection with the 1992 court case. The signature card for the IMB account at Sumitomo Bank of California, for example, shows that the account was opened in November 1990, with three authorized signatories: Kojima, his wife, and his attorney. But no monthly bank statements for the IMB account were produced in connection with that case. Other records were produced in connection with Kojima's personal account at the Bank of California, which was the account used to write the third check to the President's Dinner for $100,000. These records show that the account was opened on February 20, 1992, that Mr. and Mrs. Kojima were the only authorized signatories, and that an initial deposit was made of $1,000. Monthly bank statements show that no further activity took place in the account until April 1992, when three deposits were made in a four-day period. The first was for $24,381 on April 20; the second was a wire transfer of $200,000 on April 23; and the third was a wire transfer of $164,631.90 on April 24. Four checks were then written over a three-week period in April and May 1992. The first, for $8,100, paid on April 24, may have been for the museum rental bill associated with the Spring Forum dinner. The next, for $100,000, was the contribution to the President's Dinner. The third check, also for $100,000, represented a contribution to Harvard University.54 The fourth check, for $175,000, withdrew the bulk of funds from the account on May 11, 1992. No further activity took place until the account was closed in July, five months after it was opened. None of the documents from the 1992 court case indicate where the two April wire transfers originated. A Committee subpoena might have established whether those wire transfers deposited foreign money into the Kojima account, but the Majority denied Minority requests for subpoenas to obtain the necessary bank records. The Majority's justification--that the 1992 Kojima contribution was too old for Committee investigation--is contradicted by the fact that the Majority not only investigated but held hearings on a $50,000 contribution to the Democratic Party by Hip Hing Holdings that was made in August 1992, and for which Hip Hing Holdings later sought reimbursement from sources in Indonesia.55 The Kojima contribution is from the same year and ten times larger--potentially the second largest single infusion of foreign funds into either party, exceeded only by the loan transaction involving the National Policy Forum, RNC and Hong Kong funding, described in an earlier chapter. It is also relevant that, while the Democratic Party returned the $50,000 Hip Hing Holdings contribution, the Republican Party has continued to retain $215,000 from Kojima. Its retention of these funds means that the Republican Party is holding almost a quarter of a million dollars in likely foreign funds. One other set of facts raises questions about the dinner committee's own suspicions regarding the Kojima funds. Kojima originally contributed $500,000 to the Republican Senate-House Dinner Committee to elect Senate and House candidates in 1992. The 1994 settlement agreement, however, re-directed the funds, depositing them into a new dinner committee account called a ``Trust & Building Fund.'' Section 441e of the Federal Election Campaign Act prohibits foreign contributions to local, state, or federal candidates, but is silent on whether foreign funds may be contributed to parties to conduct non-candidate-related activities, such as constructing office facilities. Did the Republican Party re-direct the Kojima funds from a candidate to a non-candidate account in order to better its chances for retaining the funds in case they were later deemed foreign? How else can the complex 1994 transaction creating a new account solely for the Kojima funds be explained? failure to conduct a federal investigation On June 9, 1992, Common Cause asked Attorney General William Barr to request appointment of an independent counsel to investigate ``whether criminal violations of federal law [had] occurred in connection with The President's Dinner.'' Common Cause raised two sets of possible violations, each involving a co-chair of the dinner. With respect to Kojima, Common Cause stated: Published reports indicate that Kojima was heavily in debt, that [IMB] may not have had $500,000 to contribute and therefore that the $500,000 may in fact have come from unidentified contributors. The published reports . . . raise serious questions of violations of 2 U.S.C. 441(f) (prohibiting contributions made in the name of another) and 2 U.S.C. 434 (requiring disclosure of the source of contributions). Two weeks later, on June 24, 1992, John C. Keeney, deputy assistant attorney general for the criminal division, sent a one-page letter to Common Cause. He stated without further explanation: We have determined that there is no basis to seek appointment of an Independent Counsel. . . . Moreover, we find no personal or Department of Justice conflict of interest which requires the appointment of an Independent Counsel. As far as the Minority has been able to determine, no criminal investigation of the Kojima contribution took place outside of this two-week period. The Minority is also unaware of any FEC investigation of the Kojima contribution, although it is possible an investigation was initiated without any public notice and is still underway.56 The absence of any significant civil or criminal federal investigation of the Kojima contribution may have sent the message that even a contributor with a questionable background may contribute hundreds of thousands of dollars to a political party, and no federal inquiry will follow. The FEC and Justice Department's apparent inaction in the Kojima matter may have been perceived as giving a green light to the no-questions- asked fundraising that followed in the 1996 election cycle. conclusion At the start of the Committee's investigation, the Majority supported efforts to investigate the Kojima contribution, issuing document requests to the State Department and Lippobank, among others. But the Majority later reversed course, refusing to support obtaining additional documents, interviews, or public testimony about Kojima. Yet the facts and documents surrounding Kojima's $500,000 contribution provide information of great relevance to the Committee's investigation into the 1996 elections. This contribution is potentially one of the largest foreign-funded contributions to either party. The Kojima case establishes clear precedent for a political party using the White House and access to senior government officials to encourage fundraising. In a two-year period, due to his contributor status, Kojima met President Bush on five occasions, including at an Oval Office reception; met with Vice President Quayle twice; met Cabinet members at an intimate lunch; and met multiple times with U.S. ambassadors and senior embassy personnel. The Kojima case is a precedent for large contributors bringing foreign nationals as their guests to fundraising events attended by the President. The Kojima case also demonstrates the lengths to which GOP fundraisers went to assist large contributors in furthering their private business interests--even attempting meetings with foreign leaders. The Kojima case demonstrates the belief in the fundraising community that the law imposed no legal obligation on them to investigate any contributor or contribution, even when questions were raised. The Kojima case also demonstrates the Republican Party's continuing belief that it has no obligation to return suspect funds. In short, the Kojima case offers proof that campaign finance abuses are a bipartisan problem with a long history. footnotes \1\ Kojima's employment history is described in documents contained in files associated with 1992 Republican Senate-House Dinner Committee v. Carolina's Pride Seafood, Inc. Civil Action No. 92-1141 (D.D.C), and Bank of Trade v. 2M Management Co., Ltd., No. C697606 (California Superior Court, Los Angeles County). \2\ The first loan was made on 3/3/87 for $80,000 to finance new restaurant franchises; the second loan was on 4/14/87 for $250,000 to finance interior construction of a new restaurant at a shopping mall; and the third was on 4/14/87 for $325,000 to buy out other shareholders in certain restaurants. Kojima personally guaranteed repayment along with his partner and the founder of 2M Management, Margaret Wong. \3\ Bank of Trade v. 2M Management Co., Ltd., No. C697606 (California Superior Court, Los Angeles County); 1992 Republican Senate-House Dinner Committee v. Carolina's Pride Seafood, Inc., 858 F. Supp. 243, 246 (D.D.C. 1994) (The bank obtained creditor's judgment against Kojima for $586,000 on 12/31/90.) \4\ Certified statement by California Secretary of State, 5/20/97. The certification states that IMB was incorporated on 6/27/90, suspended for nonpayment of taxes from 8/3/92 until 5/24/93 and from 4/ 1/94 until 4/18/94, and listed on 5/20/97 as an active California corporation. \5\ IMB's Statement By Domestic Stock Corporation, 6/17/91; signature card for IMB bank account at Sumitomo Bank of California, 11/ 90. \6\ Committee investigators were unable to locate any IMB office. See also Washington Post, 5/8/92 (IMB ``operates out of his lawyer's office, and phone messages are taken by an answering service.'') and Los Angeles Times, 5/8/92 (IMB ``is run out of the office of his wife's student exchange program. . . . Nowhere in the two-room office is there any evidence of a marketing company.''). \7\ See, for example, IMB incorporation documents (attorney's office and wife's office address used), IMB checks and bank records at Sumitomo Bank of California (wife's office address used), and FEC contribution records (attorney's office address used). \8\ See, for example, Associated Press, 4/29/92; Los Angeles Times, 4/29/92; Chicago Tribune, 4/30/92; Orlando Sentinel Tribune, 5/7/92; Washington Post, 5/8/92; and St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 5/9/92. \9\ Los Angeles Times, 5/9/92. \10\ New York Times, 10/11/92; Los Angeles Times, 10/11/92; New York Times, 10/18/92; and Daily News, 10/15/96. \11\ Washington Post, 5/8/92. \12\ New York Times, 5/9/92. \13\ Los Angeles Times, 5/8/92. \14\ The 1992 Republican Senate-House Dinner Committee v. Carolina's Pride Seafood, Inc., (D.D.C.), Civil Action No. 92-1141. \15\ 858 F. Supp. 243 (D.D.C. 1994). \16\ Judgment by Consent, Civil Action 92-1141 (9/6/94). \17\ Judgment by Consent, Civil Action 92-1141 (9/6/94). FEC records show that the Fund was established on 9/20/94 as a new non- federal account of the Dinner Committee. Statement of Organization, FEC ID No. C00261719; and 1992 President's Dinner, Report of Receipts and Disbursements, Schedule B, Itemized Disbursements, 10/94, p. 1. \18\ People v. Kojima, Los Angeles Municipal Court, Case Nos. 92R25264 and 92R00618, Reporter's Transcript of Proceedings on 10/15/ 93. See also Dallas Morning News, 10/11/92 (``Kojima, 51, . . . was arrested in the Salt Lake City Airport as he prepared to board a plane. . . . He had eluded investigators for four months, moving frequently and living under assumed names, officials said.'') and Los Angeles Times, 10/11/92. \19\ Although FEC records indicate that all three contributions to the 1992 President's Dinner were made by IMB, the final payment of $100,000 was drawn on Kojima's personal bank account, and was held in the 1992 court case to be a personal expenditure. 858 F. Supp. 243, 249. \20\ Documents analyzed by the Minority include records from the 1992 court case; FEC contribution and enforcement records; records collected by Common Cause regarding the 1992 President's Dinner; records provided by the State Department and Lippobank in response to Committee document requests; documents provided in connection with Committee interviews; and other materials. \21\ Committee investigators conducted a number of interviews, prepared eight formal interview reports, and summarized several investigative efforts. In several instances, interviewed persons voluntarily provided documents. \22\ Depositions in the 1992 court case were provided by the Republican Dinner Committee's executive director Elizabeth Ekonomou, comptroller Christopher Ward, and assistant treasurer Trudy Matthes Barksdale. \23\ 1992 Presidential Roundtable brochure. \24\ A letter dated 6/22/90, from Presidential Roundtable co- chairman Senator Don Nickles to prospective members, describes it this way: ``Working with the Republican members of the United States Senate, the Presidential Roundtable operates much like a private club--a club whose members meet, talk, and dine with some of the most important people in the world. . . . It is an exclusive political organization, a unique business forum, and a special social club combined.'' \25\ The brochure also lists benefits related to the 1992 Republican National Convention in Houston, including a ``private tour'' of the NASA Space Center ``hosted by Senators from the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.'' A brochure photograph is captioned: ``Secretary Richard Cheney briefs the Roundtable Members on Defense issues at the Pentagon.'' Both are examples of U.S. government facilities being used to encourage GOP fundraising. \26\ Committee investigators interviewed DeGrandi at length and prepared two interview reports dated 6/4/97 and 7/3/97. \27\ Staff interview with DeGrandi, 6/4/97, p. 1. \28\ Staff interview with DeGrandi, 6/4/97, p. 4. \29\ Staff interview with DeGrandi, 6/4/97, p. 4. \30\ DeGrandi, Lisa. ``A Staffer's Own Story,'', p.3. \31\ See also Los Angeles Times, 5/18/92: ``In October, theForeign Commercial Service at the U.S. Consulate in Hong Kong did get a letter from the Presidential Roundtable introducing Kojima, a consulate spokesman said Sunday. . . . A week later, Kojima asked the consulate to set up appointments with the Hong Kong airport authorities. The consulate obliged, and Kojima met with airport officials, but did not land a contract, the spokesman said.'' \32\ A 10/1/91 memorandum prepared by an Embassy official, for example, summarizing a 45-minute meeting with Kojima, states the following: ``Mr. Kojima explained that he is trying to assemble a consortium for the Hong Kong Airport project and needs introductions to Japanese banks to secure funding. We explained that [the commercial office of the U.S. Embassy in Japan] is primarily concerned with promoting exports of U.S. goods and services, and is not positioned to make introductions to Japanese banks. We also indicated that Mr. Kojima's list of consortium members showed little participation by U.S. firms.'' In other words, the embassy was being asked to further Kojima's private business interests even when they involved obtaining business for foreign, not American, firms. \33\ This deposition was provided on 4/8/93 in connection with the 1992 court case. \34\ Elizabeth Ekonomou deposition, 4/8/93, pp. 35-36. \35\ See letter from Dinner Chairman Howard Baker to Kojima, thanking him for ``agreeing to serve as a Co-Chairman by pledging $300,000,'' 2/19/92. \36\ This memorandum, as well as other internal documents related to the President's Dinner became publicly available in connection with an FEC enforcement action against Elliott. See In re Cherry Communications Inc., MUR No. 3672. \37\ FEC records also indicate that on March 6, IMB contributed $30,000 to the NRSC, but one month later this contribution was returned due to insufficient funds. \38\ 28 Weekly Comp. Pres. Doc. 477 (3/13/92). \39\ NRSC/Nonfederal Schedule A for Itemized Receipts, p. 16. \40\ 28 Weekly Comp. Pres. Doc. 584 (4/3/92). \41\ DeGrandi interview report, 6/4/97, p. 6. \42\ Letter from Chiey N. Kojima to Dr. Hausman of the John F. Kennedy School of Government, enclosing a copy of the dinner menu with a thank you to the Kojimas printed at the bottom, 4/4/92. \43\ The Court in the 1992 court case describes the sequence of events this way: ``The flurry of notices to contributors like Michael Kojima exhorted them to increase donations. Kojima, apparently taking the notices to heart, contributed another $100,000 to the 1992 Committee via a personal check . . . Kojima then qualified to sit at the President's table.'' 858 F. Supp. 244. \44\ CBS Evening News footage re-broadcast on July 7, 1997. \45\ In October, Committee Chairman Thompson was reported by the press as disagreeing with ``the notion that possible [campaign-finance] misdeeds by President Clinton and his aides are no worse than those of the Reagan and Bush administrations. . . . ``We have a scandal going on in Washington, D.C., now that is not like anything we've seen before,'' he said. ``We have seen unprecedented amounts of money flow into the White House.''' Associated Press, 10/18/97. \46\ Column by Lars-Erik Nelson in San Diego Union-Tribune, 5/14/ 92. \47\ Elizabeth Ekonomou deposition, 4/8/92, pp. 102-103. \48\ Pleading filed by Baran on July 22, 1993, on behalf of the Republican Senate-House Dinner Committee. The Court subsequently disagreed, found Kojima insolvent, ordered a portion of his $500,000 contribution paid to his creditors, and authorized additional discovery into IMB's solvency. 858 F. Supp. at 249. The Republican Committee then settled the lawsuit, keeping $215,000 and releasing $285,000 plus interest to Kojima's creditors. Judgment by Consent, Civil Action 92- 1141 (9/6/94). The Republican Committee also moved and the court agreed to vacate its published decision, so that no precedent would be set requiring political committees to surrender contributions from insolvent contributors. Motion filed by Republican Committee 8/30/94; court order filed 11/8/94. \49\ This memorandum is referenced in the Court decision, 858 F.Supp. at 245, n. 5, and is available in the public file associated with the 1992 court case. \50\ See 4/20/92 fax and memorandum to Kojima from Ekonomou, described acknowledging receipt of a list of 23 guests. Ekonomou had this guest list prior to calling Kojima on April 24. \51\ CBS News has reprinted several photographs of Kojima's Japanese guests at the President's Dinner on its website at \52\ While Kojima's guest list for the dinner has not been produced to the Committee, Kimoto's name does appear in a State Department document summarizing a 3/6/92 meeting between Kojima and the U.S. ambassador to Japan. The document lists Kimoto as a participant at the invitation of Kojima, thereby providing evidence that the two were engaged in business dealings in the month before the President's dinner. \53\ Teramoto, for example, attended meetings with Kojima and U.S. embassy personnel, and is listed on embassy documents summarizing the meetings. His name also appears in correspondence between Mr. and Mrs. Kojima and Harvard University, including a 3/10/92 letter from Mrs. Kojima which describes Teramoto as Kojima's ``Japan agent.' \54\ In the spring of 1992, in addition to contributing $500,000 to the President's Dinner, Kojima made three contributions to Harvard University totalling $205,000. Committee investigators conducted interviews and obtained documents in connection with this matter, including copies of the checks used to make the contributions. Two of the checks, both dated March 5, 1992, are written on IMB's account at Sumitomo Bank of California. One gave $100,000 to the Institute for Social and Economic Policy in the Middle East at the John F. Kennedy School of Government; the other contributed $5,000 to the University's general fund. The third check, dated May 1, 1997, was drawn on Kojima's personal account at the Bank of California and contributed another $100,000 to the Institute. The documents and staff interview reports dated 5/29/97 and 6/3/97 with Institute Director Leonard Hausman indicate that Kojima invoked his status as co-chairman of the President's Dinner to establish his credentials with Harvard. The 5/29 report states that the director called a person from the ``Republican party in Washington, D.C.'' who confirmed ``that Kojima was a significant contributor to the Dinner, that he was a Dinner co-chairman and that he was indeed going to sit at the head table with the President and Mrs. Bush. [The director] concluded that if the G.O.P. thought enough of Kojima . . . [to] sit him with the President, then Harvard could accept Kojima's money as well.'' The director indicated that ``[i]n return'' for his contribution, Kojima ``desired to be appointed to the Board of Directors for the Institute.'' He recalled receiving letters of recommendation ``from Japanese legislators or officials urging [him] to appoint Kojima to the Board of Directors,'' but did not do so. Harvard University did, however, arrange for Kojima to meet with senior university personnel and invited him to participate in a Harvard symposium. Kojima, in turn, invited the director to the President's Dinner, and he attended as one of Kojima's 23 guests. These incidents demonstrate Kojima's use of his status as a dinner co-chairman to win entry into other circles and the Republican Party's ready assistance to further his personal interests. \55\ See, for example, Juliana Utomo, 7/15/97 Hrg., pp. 9-12. \56\ The FEC did initiate, in October 1992, a civil investigation of the other dinner co-chair named in Common Cause's request for an independent counsel, James R. Elliott. That investigation, MUR 3672, concluded in 1996 when the FEC released a conciliation agreement in which Elliott and his company, Cherry Communications, Inc., agreed to pay a $150,000 civil penalty for violating 2 USC 441b(a)'s prohibition against corporate contributions.