G.O.P. Must Control Congress, Bush Tells Donors
Published on Thursday, June 20, 2002 in the New York Times
G.O.P. Must Control Congress, Bush Tells Donors
by Elisabeth Bumiller

WASHINGTON, June 19 President Bush told more than 6,000 people at a multimillion-dollar Republican gala tonight that it was essential for the party to retain control of the House and to win back the Senate.

"We're here for the same reason," Mr. Bush said at the fund-raiser, which brought in more than $30 million for Republican House and Senate candidates in the fall elections. "We want Denny Hastert to remain the speaker of the House and Trent Lott to become the majority leader of the Senate."

Some of the biggest contributors at the dinner at the Washington Convention Center were major pharmaceutical companies that are now lobbying Congress to pass a prescription drug plan that helps their industry. The corporate chairman of the event was Bob Ingram, the chief operating officer of GlaxoSmithKline, which donated $250,000 to the event.

Democrats criticized the event as a multimillion-dollar display of influence peddling that flauted a campaign finance reform bill that Mr. Bush begrudgingly signed into law in March. The bill makes large, unlimited donations to the national parties illegal after the elections this November.

Republicans said that the Democrats were also raising large amounts of money and that the evening was proper and legal.

"This is in accordance with the law," said Ari Fleischer, the White House press secretary.

As for the propriety of accepting large amounts of money from an industry that has an important bill before Congress, Mr. Fleischer said, "The president believes that it's important to give prescription drugs to seniors, and it's important to work with Congress to get it done."

Other corporate donors included Blue CrossBlue Shield, Delta Air Lines, Eli Lilly & Company, the Microsoft Corporation, Pfizer Inc., and the Walt Disney Company.

Copyright 2002 The New York Times Company