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King Donated $25,350 to Aid Lobbying Group - May 21, 1989 - Omaha World-Herald

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May 21, 1989 King Donated $25,350 to Aid Lobbying Group; [Sunrise Edition] Robert Dorr. Omaha World - Herald. Omaha, Neb. pg. 8.a

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(Copyright 1989 Omaha World-Herald Company)

A $25,350 donation made in 1987 by Lawrence E. King Jr. placed him among the largest contributors to Citizens for America, a lobbying effort that supported Reagan administration goals.

A National Credit Union Administration lawsuit against King contends that he made the gift with funds he illegally took from the Franklin Community Federal Credit Union, which was closed last November. King was top executive of Franklin.

In the 6 1/2 months since federal authorities closed Franklin, rumors have persisted that money from the credit union somehow found its way to the Nicaraguan contra rebels. No evidence has surfaced that the contras received Franklin funds.

Donald Devine, chairman of Citizens for America, said the group supported the Reagan administration's efforts to supply the contras with U.S. military aid. But Citizens for America did not itself funnel money to the rebels, Devine said from Washington.

Citizens for America was one of the conservative Washington-based groups that advised former Marine Lt. Col. Oliver L. North and helped develop a base of citizen support for him. The group organized a U.S. speaking tour for contra leaders in 1985, the Washington Post has reported.

North faced 12 charges in the Iran-contra affair. They included lying to or obstructing Congress, lying to then-Attorney General Edwin Meese and obstructing Meese's inquiry into the affair, and converting traveler's checks to his own use.

A jury in Washington found North guilty May 4 of three charges and innocent of nine. He was convicted of altering and shredding documents, accepting an illegal gratuity in the form of a $13,800 home security system and one count of aiding and abetting in an obstruction of Congress.

King has said that he never met North. He said he saw North once at a social event in Washington.

King's $25,350 donation qualified him for "founders club" status in Citizens for America.

Others among 128 founders listed on a 1986 Citizens for America report were Joseph Coors, retired president of the Adolph Coors Co.; Ivan Boesky, who was convicted of insider stock trading; and T. Boone Pickens, a corporate takeover specialist.

King made his donation in 1987, the NCUA's lawsuit says. His name doesn't appear on the 1986 donation list. King made other gifts to Citizens for America but none as large as the $25,350, Devine said.

King's donation was easily his largest to a political cause among those that have come to light. It constituted half of the $55,010 in King's political donations listed in records of the Federal Election Commission, the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission and court documents filed in the NCUA's $34 million lawsuit against King.

Citizens for America was started in 1983 by Lewis Lehrman, the Republican candidate for governor of New York, who lost to Democrat Mario Cuomo in 1982. Its leaders lobbied through the news media and by talking to members of Congress on behalf of Reagan's economic and defense programs, the group's 1986 annual report says.

In 1986, President Reagan said, "On issue after issue - from economic growth and tax reform to the MX missile and support for freedom fighters around the world - Lew Lehrman and CFA have been there when we needed them."

David Carmen, a former officer of the group who now heads a Washington public relations firm, said Citizens for America's money mostly was used to create a grass-roots network of people who wrote letters to the editors of newspapers, called radio talk shows and used other means to promote Reagan policies.

In 1985 the group staged a public relations promotion of the Reagan Doctrine by assembling anti-communist guerrilla leaders in Jamba, Angola, the stronghold of Jonas Savimbi's rebels, the Washington Post reported. At the gathering, Lehrman presented each leader with a framed copy of the Declaration of Independence.

Citizens for America was among the groups that kept North informed of private activities carried out in the United States on behalf of the contras, the Post reported in 1986.

Credit: World-Herald Staff Writer

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