Washington Prowler

The Democrats’ Versailles Palace

Sweet soft money is making the dream possible. Even Bill Clinton is cooperating -- and you can honor him in return. (See our contest suggestion.)

By 3.25.02

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FOX HOUNDS
After cashing the $7 million check Haim Saban wrote to the Democratic National Committee, party chairman Terry McAuliffe should also send a thank you note to News Corp. chairman and conservative Rupert Murdoch. "That's a lot of Murdoch's money we're getting," says a DNC fundraiser, laughing. Yeah, all the way to the bank.

Saban is the creator of kiddie TV shows like "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" and "Power Rangers," hallmark shows in the early years of the Fox Network (for more on this "cartoon baron," click here). Given their popularity with the after-school crowd, Murdoch and News Corp. have been paying Saban millions to keep his creations on the air and away from other networks. "Murdoch made Saban. Without him he'd be just another TV producer, and we'd be $7 million poorer," says the DNC moneyman.

Saban gave the DNC $7 million to help build the party's $40 million headquarters near Capitol Hill. McAuliffe intends to raise enough for the capital project so that he can pay for it in cash before possible campaign finance reforms kick in on November 6, 2002.

RIGHT TO PAY
Haim Saban isn't the only fat-walleted Democrat to pony up the dough for the DNC's new headquarters. Texas trial lawyer Fred Baron and Chicago business executive Fred Eychaner each cut McAuliffe $1 million checks, as did two unions, the Communications Workers of America and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

Despite the union donations, McAuliffe is currently considering nonunion construction bids for his political palace. In fact, while much of the heavy construction on the building will likely be undertaken by union workers, many of the smaller projects will be performed by nonunion work crews and contractors out of Virginia, a "right to work" state. "That's how we'll save some money," says another DNC staffer.

PARTY GUY
While DNC staffers credit Terry McAuliffe for raising much of the money for the new facility, they also say a great deal of credit belongs to Bill Clinton. "He made the calls, made the visits, especially with guys like Saban, who love him," says a DNC political staffer. "And Clinton loves working these guys over."

But, apparently, not without a price. A former aide to Clinton says the ex-prez would like to see some part of the new DNC headquarters named after him. "The William Jefferson Clinton Auditorium has a nice ring to it," says the former staffer. "He's raised hundreds of millions of dollars for the party, kept it afloat. He deserves to have his name somewhere on that building."

A Clinton staffer working on the presidential library project in Little Rock, Arkansas, says that Clinton has enough influence with men like Saban that he could have steered some of that $7 million to the library fund. "But he didn't. President Clinton will always think of the party first when it comes to things like this," says the aide. "Even if it means his library loses out a bit, he's willing to work hard for the party, not just himself." Saban has already donated more than $1 million to the Clinton Library.

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What part of the DNC building or any other important structure would you attach Bill Clinton's name to? Send your suggestions to The Prowler c/o of Reader Mail, below. And please, nothing X-rated.

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