Reporter Says White House Press Corp Ignores Chinese Money Question

By Ben Anderson | July 7, 2008 | 8:24 PM EDT

( - White House reporters are still reluctant to follow-up on questions about Chinese influence in campaign finance after President Bill Clinton furiously shouted down a reporter last Friday during a barbecue held on the South Lawn.

Clinton reportedly became enraged at a reporter for asking about illegal money from China making its way into the hands of Democratic Party campaign coffers. The reporter, Investor's Business Daily Washington Bureau Chief Paul Sperry, was eventually banned by the president from future White House socials.

In an interview with Sperry said he attended the barbecue on a pass issued to one of IBD's White House correspondent. During the event, he asked Clinton when he would hold the next formal press conference.

Clinton responded, "I don't know, I'll have one."

"When?" Sperry asked.

Clinton responded, "Why?"

"The American people have a lot of questions about illegal money from China and the campaign-finance scandal," Sperry said.

Clinton became more curious, asking, "Who are you with? I don't like your accusatory tone. It sounds like you've already got the story written."

From there, Clinton allegedly became more enraged to the point where he banned Sperry from future White House social events.

But despite the sequence of events last Friday, which Sperry said "freaked out" many in the White House Press corps, reporters are still not asking important questions about illegal campaign contributions from China.

Sperry said he was very disappointed that the White House press corps did not follow his line of questioning about campaign finance irregularities and illegal money from China, but chose instead to ask questions about him.

During a White House press conference Wednesday, Sperry said three reporters asked about his being banned from White House social events rather than questions about the issues.

"I am not the news. It's the president and his answers and non-answers, or the fact that he went ballistic and protested too much when asked questions about Chinese donations," Sperry said. Clinton's reaction was "very revealing."

"It's suspicious behavior and it freaked out a lot of the prestige press who were there and witnessed him fly into this purple fit of rage and yet no one is following up on the China questions with (White House Press Secretary Joe) Lockhart," Sperry said. "No one even tried to pin Lockhart down on whether or not (Clinton) was going to hold a formal press conference and when that date might be."