The Hsu is on the other foot
By Thomas Lindaman
In case you've been living under a rock or, in the case of the DailyKosmonauts, in your mom's basement, Hillary Clinton's campaign was rocked by scandal thanks in part of one Norman Hsu. According to the Los Angeles Times, Hsu is responsible for channeling more than $1.2 million dollars to Hillary's campaign and to Democrats in general.
This wouldn't normally be a subject for a column, except for the fact that Hsu is also considered to be a fugitive of the law. Seems he plead no contest to grand theft in the 1990s for investment fraud. Then, he claimed it was all a misunderstanding (yeah, like pleading no contest is really all that confusing…) and failed to appear in court for the charge. Then, he disappeared until the past three years where he's been a wildcat at drumming up donations for Democrats. And it's not like he was an anonymous face in the crowd, either. He's been seen.
Now that Hsu's secret has been exposed to the world, Democrats are…well, they've been acting like Democrats. Hillary initially promised to give $23,000 connected to Mr. Hsu from her campaign coffers and give it to charity, but announced on September 10th that they would be returning $850,000 in donations connected to Hsu. A Clinton campaign spokesman Howard Wolfson announced it like this:
In light of recent events and allegations that Mr. Norman Hsu engaged in an illegal investment scheme, we have decided out of an abundance of caution to return the money he raised for our campaign.... Despite conducting a thorough review of public records, our campaign like others were unaware of Mr. Hsu's decade-plus old warrant.
Yeah, those outstanding warrants are so tricky to find, considering they would be matters of public record. All you'd have to do is, well, look for them. Furthermore, Wolfson promised "vigorous additional vetting procedures on our bundlers, including criminal background checks."
Why does this not make me feel better? Something tells me the only checks the Clinton campaign is interested in are the ones with the big numbers and dollar signs on them. Of course, Hillary giving away a portion of her campaign chest to charity and moving money that may or may not be what Hsu raised for her doesn't erase the fact that she took campaign funds from a known criminal. This is where existing campaign finance laws aren't harsh enough.
Take the recent fines levied against America Coming Together, a 527 group connected closely with Democrat fundraiser George Soros. The Federal Election Commission found that the Soros group had violated campaign laws in 2004 by using funds raised outside of existing federal election limits to help federal candidates. Sure, they agreed to pay $775,000 in fines, but the fact it took the FEC almost three years to act on it should be disturbing.
Of course, this aspect of the Hsu story won't get covered in the mainstream media because, well, there's Larry Craig. After all, an allegedly gay man doing questionable, but not really illegal, acts in a men's bathroom in Minneapolis is much more important than the Democrats' front-runner among others getting caught taking campaign funds from a wanted fugitive from the law.
And let's not forget, this isn't the first time the Clintons have taken money from a fugitive. Can you say Marc Rich, boys and girls? And aside from fugitives, the Clintons and the Democrats have raked in millions from other shady sources, including James Riady and the Lippo Group. Of course, there are also the donations from the Buddhist temple through Maria Hsia. You know, the one that Al Gore thought wasn't a fundraiser? Gee, Al, didn't it strike you as odd that Buddhist monks swearing an oath of poverty had a few hundred grand lying around that they were willing to donate to Clinton/Gore 96?
The Democrats are hoping we forget most of this funny money business in their midst, and for the most part they're right. We're more interested in the fall TV premieres than in keeping up with the news. And who can blame them? This fall, it's Survivor ... but in China! (One problem, though. An hour after someone gets voted off, the tribes get hungry again.) But it's important that we divest ourselves of watching Survivor: China if only for one night and really think through this situation.
Meanwhile, I have a simple suggestion for the FEC. Speed things up a bit, wouldya? Who do you have investigating these alleged campaign law violations? Hans Blix? If you're just now dropping the hammer on America Coming Together, you need to pick up the pace a bit. Have a Red Bull or twenty.
And one more thing. Let's make the fines for campaign law violations a bit more meaningful. First off, if any current politician running for public office gets caught with illegal funds, they have to drop out of the race and donate all of their campaign funds to charity that would help the opposing party in some way. I say…the NRA for the Democrats and PBS for the Republicans. And let's set the fine at, oh, a million dollars for every one dollar in illegal contributions accepted, all of it not payable using existing campaign funds. Yep, it has to come out of the candidates' pockets directly. Sure it's harsh, but at least we'll be able to knock down the number of candidates to two in a really big hurry.