home > this article
Homeless for Hillary no occident
By Michael M. Bates
Some things never change. The Los Angeles Times recently reported that in New York City Hillary Clinton brings fresh meaning to Chinese take out. Her campaign's hauling in bundles of cash from impoverished Chinese areas. Dishwashers, waiters, street vendors, and other folks not normally considered fat cats are generously donating.
Said a $1,000 campaign contributor: "They informed us to go (to a Clinton fundraiser), so I went." Ah, doing what you're told, just like in the old country. "Everybody was making a donation, so I did too. Otherwise I would lose face."
The Times looked at 150 of those in the Chinese community giving money to Mrs. Clinton. Most aren't registered to vote. A full third of them couldn't be located using property, telephone, or business records. Newspaper staffers found some campaign contributors not living at the addresses they supplied and no one there had ever heard of them.
Perhaps that's to be expected. In areas where almost half the people live below the poverty line, homelessness is likely. Thus, it's probable Mrs. Clinton is performing a near miracle: she's garnering contributions from the homeless.
It may be prudent, though, for her to not so rigorously follow her husband's Asian money policy. Voters might be reminded of the Impeached One and his very special 1996 Chinese connections.
Johnny Chung, a Clinton fundraiser, declared the Clinton White House was "like a subway - you have to put in coins to open the gates." And Johnny always brought plenty of coins, visiting the White House more than four dozen times, often with Chinese business executives.
Mr. Chung later told a congressional committee that not all the money he contributed to Democrats was his. He recounted a meeting with the head of Chinese military intelligence, who informed him: "We like your president very much. We hope to see him re-elected. I will give you 300,000 U.S dollars. You can give it to your president and the Democratic Party."
Hillary's chief of staff admitted taking $50,000 from Mr. Chung in the White House, a clear violation of the law prohibiting political donations on federal property. Mrs. Clinton's aide claimed one reason she accorded Chung this special handling was because, like her, he's a minority. Don't you just love it?
Also helping Clinton in his re-election bid was Charles Yah Lin Trie. Mr. Trie was a Little Rock restaurateur whose establishment Bill once frequented. Records show the businessman visiting the Clinton White House at least 22 times. The more than $1.3 million that he rustled up had to be returned after investigation.
You didn't need to be Inspector Clouseau to suspect something funny was going on with Trie's bundling. The Clintons required cash for lawyers' fees as well as the campaign. You'll recall that Bill, who Hillary contended was merely ministering to a troubled young intern, stood accused of improprieties – including perjury - and had to defend himself in court. A legal defense fund was established.
The helpful Trie dropped off two envelopes containing $460,000 in $1,000 contributions for the defense fund. Some of the gifts were sequentially numbered money orders with the same handwriting, even though they were supposedly from different people. The currency exchange sure must have been busy that day.
Having raised money for Democrats for several years, John Huang was recommended for a job in the Clinton administration by the late Senator Paul Simon (D-IL). A spot at the Commerce Department was found for him as the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Economic Policy, which must look great on a business card. A man with Huang's bag man skills, however, wasn't going to wallow there for long.
After 18 months and with the personal intervention of Clinton, Huang moved to the Democratic National Committee in a job created especially for him, Vice Finance Chairman. In the 15 months before the election, he was welcomed to the White House dozens of times and, he said, often met with Mr. and Mrs. Clinton.
One corporate check for a quarter of a million dollars given to Huang earned five Asian businessmen face time with the President of the United States. Yet once again the pesky Republican majority in Congress investigated and that money, as well as over $1 million more from Huang, had to be returned because it was tainted.
There was much more to the fundraising scandals, including the White House easing restrictions on transferring missile-related technologies to China; Al Gore raking in dough from impecunious monks and nuns at a Buddhist temple; and Attorney General Janet Reno rejecting FBI Director Louis Freeh's recommendation to appoint an independent counsel to investigate Clinton and Gore's fundraising.
Bill Clinton maintained he was "as appalled as the next person" by revelations his campaign accepted so many illegal foreign donations.The next person must have been the Mrs. The Federal Election Commission fined Democrats $719,000 for taking unlawful contributions. Congressional review wasn't too successful. The House Committee of Government Reform and Oversight noted:
"Because of the unprecedented lack of cooperation of witnesses, including 120 relevant individuals who either asserted Fifth Amendment privileges or fled the country, both the House and Senate investigations were severely hampered."
Still, Hillary should be more careful this time around. It was only a couple of months ago that a whopping $45,000 in contributions from a California postal worker of Chinese descent and his family were made public. Voters might start paying attention.
Maybe she just can't control herself. An hour after taking Chinese money, she's hungry for more. After all, the Clintons are known for their appetites.
This Michael Bates column appeared in the October 25, 2007 Reporter Newspapers.
Get weekly updates about new issues of ESR!