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Mingling with Elian – Dinner raises eyebrows

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Three days after Smith Bagley, an R.J. Reynolds tobacco heir and foundation president, invited Elian Gonzalez to his home, President Clinton’s spokesman said the Cuban boy should not be “exploited or paraded around for anyone,” the Associated Press reports.

White House spokesman Joe Lockhart did not directly rebuke Bagley, President of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation in North Carolina, or his wife Elizabeth, former Clinton ambassador to Portugal, for their dinner party. Both are prominent Democratic fundraisers and friends of Clinton, AP says.

Elian’s lawyer, former Clinton impeachment attorney Gregory Craig, joined Elian and his family at the four-hour Georgetown dinner party. The rest of the guest list is unclear. Reporters questioned whether the gathering was a perk for Democratic donors, AP reports.

Asked how close the party came to exploitation, Lockhart responded that he is unfamiliar with the specific dinner arrangements. “I don’t know what the relationships are, but I’m making the point that the boy should not be exploited, “ Lockhart told AP.

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