Fund-Raiser Denies China Connection

WASHINGTON --Early on the morning of Feb. 6, 1996, Democratic fund-raiser Ernest Green delivered a $50,000 donation to the Democratic National Committee.

A few hours later, he met with Chinese industrialist Wang Jun, with whom he hoped to do business in his role as a managing director of the Lehman Brothers investment bank. And only a few hours after that, Wang Jun -- one of China's biggest arms exporters -- was inside the White House, sipping coffee with President Clinton.

Those three events in one day have led the Justice Department and congressional investigators to ask whether Green, an old Clinton friend from Little Rock, Arkansas, was a link between the Chinese government and Democratic Party fund-raising efforts.

But the investigators are barking up the wrong tree, a lawyer for Green said Tuesday.

"There's nothing there,'' attorney Robert Washington said in a telephone interview. "The [investigators'] theory is that Ernie Green laundered money for Wang Jun. That's preposterous, and that's outrageous."

Washington confirmed that Green was contacted by congressional investigators seeking to learn whether he helped set up the 1996 meeting between Clinton and Wang Jun. But he said Green played no role in arranging it.

Clinton later called Wang Jun's presence at the coffee -- one of dozens set up for supporters of the president -- "clearly inappropriate.''

The fact that Green delivered his contribution to the Democratic Party on the same day he met with Wang Jun and that Wang Jun visited the White House was "a coincidence,'' Washington said.

Green has refused to comment on the issues surrounding his contribution and his business relationship with Wang Jun. Washington's explanation was the first full description of the events from anyone close to Green.

An Arkansan, Green is known nationally for the role he played as a teenager as one of the "Little Rock Nine,'' who integrated Central High School in Little Rock in the mid-50s. Green worked in the Labor Department during the 70s, was active as a fund-raiser for then-governor Bill Clinton in Arkansas and eventually became an investment banker at Lehman Brothers.