Suspect in Clinton-Era Scandal Appears in Court

A Filipino congressman accused of making illegal campaign donations to former President Clinton, U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy and other Democratic politicians appeared in court Monday for the first time since arriving in the United States.

Mark B. Jimenez, dressed in an olive jail uniform, spoke only to identify himself during a brief hearing before U.S. Magistrate Ted Bandstra. Lawyers for Jimenez are scheduled to request his release on bond Tuesday morning.

Facing a U.S. extradition request, Jimenez, who turns 56 on Tuesday, voluntarily left the Philippines last week. A federal indictment alleges Jimenez used corporate money to reimburse employees for illegal donations to President Clinton and other politicians.

The employees worked for a computer parts distribution business owned by Jimenez and a company owned by a relative; both were based in Miami. Jimenez was accused of illegally routing $50,000 to the Democratic National Committee and $33,500 to campaign committees.

From 1994 to 1996, the money went to Clinton, Kennedy, D-Mass., and Robert Torricelli, Senate candidates Roger Bedford in Alabama and Thomas Strickland in Colorado, and House candidate Ann Henry in Arkansas, the indictment said.

As a citizen of the Philippines, Jimenez could not legally contribute to American political campaigns.

During the hearing Monday, attorney Abbe Lowell asked prosecutors to release records of a medical exam conducted after his client arrived at Miami International Airport Sunday. Lowell later declined comment.

Jimenez is being held at the Federal Detention Center in Miami. He faces arraignment Jan. 13.

Two Filipino congressmen -- Prospero Pichay and Willie Villarama -- have traveled to Miami to support Jimenez. Pichay said Jimenez wants to get the case behind him.

"He wants to resolve this problem because he wants to go back to the Philippines," Pichay said. "He represents 700,000 voters."