Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Plot Thickens

Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal published an illuminating article which suggested that the Clinton/China fund-raising machine was back, and operating in high gear. Analyzing campaign contribution lists and other public records, Journal reporter Brody Mullins discovered that some of Mrs. Clinton's biggest contributors lived in a modest bungalow in Daly City, California, the home of a Chinese-American clan. Collectively, six members of the Paw family have given $200,000 to Democratic candidates since 2005, and $45,000 to Hillary Clinton during the same period.

These donations are more remarkable since the Paws appear to be a middle-class family. The father makes $49,000 a year as a letter carrier; his wife is a homemaker. Their four adult children have jobs ranging from mutual fund executive, to school attendance officer. Yet, the Paws can not only meet their monthly bills in a high-cost-of-living area (San Francisco), they also donate sizable sums to the Democratic Party.

But, as Mr. Mullins reports, the Paws donations are attracting scrutiny for other reasons, too. The family apparently never made a political contribution until 2005, they rapidly moved to the upper echelons of Democratic donors. Additionally, contributions for the Paws seem to track with those of Norman Hsu, a Chinese-American businessman who is a major Clinton fund-raiser. Interesting, Mr. Hsu (who controls a half-dozen clothing manufacturing companies) once listed the Paws' modest home as his address.

While the Federal Election Commission considers a potential probe of the Paws' donations, the Los Angeles Times has discovered that Norman Hsu has a slightly checkered past. Turns out that the Democratic fund-raiser is also a wanted fugitive; he skipped out on a three-year prison sentence almost fifteen years ago, after entering a "no contest" plea on grand theft charges:

Hsu's legal troubles date back almost 20 years.Beginning in 1989, court records show, he began raising what added up to more than $1 million from investors, purportedly to buy latex gloves; investors were told Hsu had a contract to resell the gloves to a major American business.

In 1991, Hsu was charged with grand theft. Prosecutors said there were no latex gloves and no contract to sell them.Hsu pleaded no contest to one grand theft charge and agreed to accept up to three years in prison.

He disappeared after failing to show up for a sentencing hearing. Bench warrants were issued for his arrest but he was never found. Ronald Smetana, the prosecutor who handled the case for the state attorney general, described Hsu as a fugitive. "Do you know where he is?" Smetana asked.

Turns out that Hsu has been hiding in plain sight, hosting high-profile fund-raisers for Democratic candidates and raising thousands in campaign donations since 2004. According to the LA Times, Hsu and his associates have, over the years, raised money for some of the biggest names in the Democratic Party, including, Sens. Dianne Feinstein of California, Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, Barack Obama of Illinois and Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware. Like Clinton, Obama and Biden are also seeking their party's presidential nomination.

With Hsu's criminal past now exposed, we're waiting to see if California authorities will finally arrest him and send him to prison. We're also wondering if any of the Democratic pols who took Hsu's money will return the contributions, given what we know about their donor's former crimes. And most importantly, we're watching the FEC, to see if they mount a serious investigation into the Hsu case. As a former FEC official told the WSJ, "there are red flags all over this one."

Likewise, we'd also like to know about any ties between Mr. Hsu, his associates, and the Chinese fund-raising machine that was instrumental in Bill Clinton's presidential victories of 1992 and 1996. That operation raised millions of dollars from individuals and organizations with ties to the Beijing government. It was later revealed that PRC intelligence agents actually met with Mr. Clinton in the White House, part of a massive influence-peddling campaign mounted by the Beijing government and its military.

While no links have been established between Mr. Hsu and the John Huang/Charley Trie operation of the mid-1990s, an inquiry into possible contacts and relationships is clearly in order. The last Democratic fund-raising scandal resulted in the compromise of sensitive missile technology (primarily through the Hughes-Loral deal), and John Huang's participation in secret CIA briefings, thanks to his post as a senior Commerce Department official. Huang later pleaded guilty to charges of making illegal contributions to the Clinton-Gore campaign in 1999. Deposed in a lawsuit by Judicial Watch, Huang "took the 5th" more than 2,000 times when asked if he had ties to Chinese intelligence. Readers will recall that Mr. Huang was a long-time employee of Indonesia's powerful Lippo Group, an organization with proven ties to Beijing's intelligence establishment.

Where does the trail of Norman Hsu and the Paw family lead? The American people have a right to know.


F said...

The image that shakes me to the core is of Bill Clinton meeting with a PRC intelligence asset in the White House. I've never worked for an intelligence agency or recruited agents, but have close friends/colleagues who have shared with me stories of their recruiting exploits. Can you imagine that particular case officer (Hsu) regaling his colleagues with his attempt to recruit the most powerful man in the world? Makes some of my friends' stories of pouring expensive whiskey down NorKor throats pale by comparison. "There I was, writing my name and affiliation in the check-in log when POTUS walked up and slapped me on the shoulder and told me how much he was looking forward to my visit. And it only cost me a mere $200,000!" I shudder. . . F

SwampWoman said...

I'm just wondering how long it will take this story to disappear without a trace.

Unknown said...

Or, Mr. Hsu to meet an untimely end. Arkanicide, anyone?