Wealthy Oilman Explains Why He Donated $300,000 to Democrats

By DAVID E. ROSENBAUM

WASHINGTON -- Roger Tamraz, an international businessman with an unsavory reputation who gave $300,000 to Democrats for last year's election campaigns, testified on Thursday that he had donated the money expressly to pry open the doors of power.

"It's the only reason -- to get access," Tamraz told the senators investigating campaign finance practices.

Tamraz was asked whether he got his money's worth for his large contributions. Yes, he replied and said, "I think next time I'll give $600,000."

Furthermore, Tamraz said, all his rivals in the oil business were donating money and going to the White House, and he needed to give to compete.

"The day we don't have to pay, I would be the happiest," he said.

The senators reacted differently to the testimony depending on their party. Democrats stressed that access had been given in exchange for money and argued that the law should be changed to prohibit large contributions. Republicans mostly ignored that question, since their hands are hardly clean in the matter of granting access to donors.