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Hagerstown firm collecting donations for Linda Tripp

October 14, 1999|By SCOTT BUTKI

A Hagerstown post office box is being used for a national fund-raising effort to pay Linda Tripp's legal bills, according to Tripp's spokesman.

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There have been "tens of thousands of contributors" for the fund, spokesman Philip Coughter said Wednesday.

Tripp, a former White House aide, received nationwide attention for recording conversations with former intern Monica Lewinsky.

This week a Howard County Circuit judge set Jan. 18 as the trial date on state charges Tripp broke the law by secretly recording the talks.

Her lawyers have asked the judge to dismiss the indictment, arguing state prosecutors improperly relied on her immunized testimony about Lewinsky's affair with President Clinton during their investigation.

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Direct Mail Processors Inc. of Hagerstown sends solicitation letters asking for donations to pay the expenses of Tripp's legal team and Coughter, Coughter said. The letter includes the Hagerstown address, he said.

The post office box is in the name of company owner Mike Murray. He did not return phone calls from his Hagerstown office Wednesday or Thursday.

"The legal bills are now in excess of $750,000," Coughter said. "There is no expectation that her legal bills will be paid anytime soon."

None of the money goes to Tripp herself, he said.

Until six weeks ago, Direct Mail Processors based their operation in an office in Capitol Heights, Md., Coughter said. He did not know why the switch was made.

There is nothing unusual about using a separate company to raise money, Coughter said. They need a "firewall," a company in between those who need the funds and those receiving the money, he said.

Direct Mail Processors has expertise in knowing who to ask for donations, he said.

In this case, they are probably approaching people who have contributed to other causes and campaigns in the past, he said.

The team also receives money from funds sent to an Annapolis post office box. That address is given out when members of the legal team do media interviews, he said.

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