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
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