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Democratic fundraiser is a fugitive in plain sight


Sarge

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http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-hsu29aug29,0,3184101,full.story?coll=la-home-center

California authorities have sought businessman Norman Hsu for 15 years. Since 2004, he has carved out a place of honor raising cash for such candidates as Hillary Rodham Clinton.

By Chuck Neubauer and Robin Fields, Los Angeles Times Staff Writers

August 29, 2007

WASHINGTON -- For the last 15 years, California authorities have been trying to figure out what happened to a businessman named Norman Hsu, who pleaded no contest to grand theft, agreed to serve up to three years in prison and then seemed to vanish.

"He is a fugitive," Ronald Smetana, who handled the case for the state attorney general, said in an interview. "Do you know where he is?"

Hsu, it seems, has been hiding in plain sight, at least for the last three years.

Since 2004, one Norman Hsu has been carving out a prominent place of honor among Democratic fundraisers. He has funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions into party coffers, much of it earmarked for presidential hopeful Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York.

In addition to making his own contributions, Hsu has honed the practice of assembling packets of checks from contributors who bear little resemblance to the usual Democratic deep pockets: A self-described apparel executive with a variety of business interests, Hsu has focused on delivering hefty contributions from citizens who live modest lives and are neophytes in the world of campaign giving.

On Tuesday, E. Lawrence Barcella Jr. -- a Washington lawyer who represents the Democratic fundraiser -- confirmed that Hsu was the same man who was involved in the California case. Barcella said his client did not remember pleading to a criminal charge and facing the prospect of jail time. Hsu remembers the episode as part of a settlement with creditors when he also went through bankruptcy, Barcella said.

The bulk of the campaign dollars raised by major parties comes from the same sources: business groups, labor unions and other well-heeled interests with a long-term need to win friends in the political arena.

But the appetite for cash has grown so great that politicians are constantly pressured to find new sources of contributions. Hsu's case illustrates the sometimes-bizarre results of that tendency to push the envelope, often in ways the candidates know nothing about.

As a Democratic rainmaker, Hsu -- who graduated from UC Berkeley and the Wharton School of Business -- is credited with donating nearly $500,000 to national and local party candidates and their political committees in the last three years. He earned a place in the Clinton campaign's "HillRaiser" group by pledging to raise more than $100,000 for her presidential bid.

Records show that Hsu helped raise an additional $500,000 from other sources for Clinton and other Democrats.

"Norman Hsu is a longtime and generous supporter of the Democratic Party and its candidates, including Sen. Clinton," Howard Wolfson, a spokesman for the campaign, said Tuesday.

"During Mr. Hsu's many years of active participation in the political process, there has been no question about his integrity or his commitment to playing by the rules, and we have absolutely no reason to call his contributions into question or to return them."

Wolfson did not immediately respond Tuesday night to questions about Hsu's legal problems.

Though he is a fugitive, Hsu has hardly kept a low profile. The website camerarts.com, which sells photographs taken at political events, features shots of Hsu at several fundraisers he hosted at Manhattan's elegant St. Regis hotel -- including a June 2005 luncheon for Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Sacramento).

Hsu lives in New York City. Efforts to contact him were unsuccessful. Barcella said Hsu chose to respond through his lawyer.

Records show that Hsu has emerged as one of the Democrats' most successful "bundlers," rounding up groups of contributors and packaging their checks together before delivering the funds to campaign officials. Individuals can give a total of $4,600 to a single candidate during an election cycle, $2,300 for the primaries and $2,300 for the general election.

One example of the kind of first-time donors Hsu has worked with is the Paw family of Daly City, Calif., which is headed by William Paw, a mail carrier, and his wife, Alice, who is listed as a homemaker.

The Paws -- seven adults, most of whom live together in a small house near San Francisco International Airport -- apparently had never donated to national candidates until 2004. Over a three-year period, they gave $213,000, including $55,000 to Clinton and $14,000 to candidates for state-level offices in New York.

The family includes a son, Winkle Paw, who Barcella said was in business with Hsu. Another son works for a Bay Area school board, while one daughter works for a hospital and another for a computer company.

"They have the financial wherewithal to make their own donations," Barcella said. "It didn't come from Norman."

He said that Hsu had known the Paws for a decade.

"Norman never reimbursed anyone for their contribution," Barcella said. It is a violation of federal law for one person to reimburse donors for campaign contributions.

Hsu's bundling of contributions from the Paws and others was first reported Tuesday in the Wall Street Journal.

Records show Hsu also solicited funds from three members of a New York family that helps run a plastics packaging plant in Pennsylvania. They have given more than $200,000 in the last three years.

Danny Lee, a manager at the packaging firm, has given $95,000 to federal Democratic campaigns -- $19,500 of which went to Clinton. Yu Fen Huang, who shares a New York house with Lee, has given $52,200 to Democrats, $8,800 to Clinton. Soe Lee has contributed $54,000 to Democrats, $8,800 to Clinton.

The Paws, the Lees and Huang did not return telephone calls seeking comment on their donations.

Over the years, Hsu and his associates have given to Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein of California, Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, Barack Obama of Illinois and Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware. Obama and Biden, like Clinton, are seeking the presidential nomination.

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, Smetana said, after failing to show up for a sentencing hearing. Bench warrants were issued for his arrest but he was never found, Smetana said.

chuck.neubauer@latimes.com

robin.fields@latimes.com

Times staff writer Dan Morain in Sacramento and researcher Janet Lundblad in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

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"Norman Hsu is a longtime and generous supporter of the Democratic Party and its candidates, including Sen. Clinton," Howard Wolfson, a spokesman for the campaign, said Tuesday.

"During Mr. Hsu's many years of active participation in the political process, there has been no question about his integrity or his commitment to playing by the rules, and we have absolutely no reason to call his contributions into question or to return them." :rolleyes:

The ****roaches are fleeing since the light came on. :laugh:

http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=D8RB03200&show_article=1

WASHINGTON (AP) - Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton will give to charity the $23,000 in donations she has received from a fundraiser who is wanted in California for failing to appear for sentencing on a 1991 grand theft charge.

The decision came Wednesday as other Democrats began distancing themselves from Norman Hsu, whose legal encounters and links to other Democratic donors have drawn public scrutiny in the past two days.

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Whatever happened to the old days?

I remember a teacher in High School telling us that "Democratic scandals are always about sex. Republican scandals are always about money."

Seems both parties have abandoned their proud roots.

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Those crazy Klintons. :paranoid:

Do I sense theme? ;)

Or just a return to the good old days?

http://www.davickservices.com/Abdul_Rehman_Jinnah.htm

abdul+rehman+jinnah.JPG

A Pakistani immigrant who hosted fundraisers in Southern California for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is being sought by the FBI on charges that he funneled illegal contributions to Clinton's political action committee and Sen. Barbara Boxer's 2004 reelection campaign. Authorities say Northridge businessman Abdul Rehman Jinnah, 56, fled the country after an indictment accused him of engineering more than $50,000 in illegal donations to the Democratic committees. A business associate charged as a co-conspirator has entered a guilty plea and is scheduled to be sentenced in Los Angeles next week.

.

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New York Times today actually addresses more of the Clinton's never-ending scandals and illegalities. Not that a democrat would care..

August 30, 2007

Clinton Donor Under a Cloud in Fraud Case

By MIKE McINTIRE and LESLIE WAYNE New York Times

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign said yesterday that it would give to charity $23,000 it had received from a prominent Democratic donor, and review thousands of dollars more that he had raised, after learning that the authorities in California had a warrant for his arrest stemming from a 1991 fraud case. The donor, Norman Hsu, has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Democratic candidates since 2003, and was slated to be co-host next month for a Clinton gala featuring the entertainer Quincy Jones.

The event would not have been unusual for Mr. Hsu, a businessman from Hong Kong who moves in circles of power and influence, serving on the board of a university in New York and helping to bankroll Democratic campaigns.

But what was not widely known was that Mr. Hsu, who is in the apparel business in New York, has been considered a fugitive since he failed to show up in a San Mateo County courtroom about 15 years ago to be sentenced for his role in a scheme to defraud investors, according to the California attorney general’s office. Mr. Hsu had pleaded no contest to one count of grand theft and was facing up to three years in prison. The travails of Mr. Hsu have proved an embarrassment for the Clinton campaign, which has strived to project an image of rectitude in its fund-raising and to dispel any lingering shadows of past episodes of tainted contributions.

Already, Mrs. Clinton’s opponents were busy trying to rekindle remembrances of the 1996 Democratic fund-raising scandals, in which Asian moneymen were accused of funneling suspect donations into Democratic coffers as President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore were running for re-election.

Some Clinton donors said yesterday that they did not expect the Hsu matter to hurt Mrs. Clinton unless a pattern of problematic fund-raising or compromised donors emerged, which would raise questions about the campaign’s vetting of donors. Mr. Hsu’s legal problems were first reported yesterday by The Los Angeles Times; The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday about his bundling of questionable contributions. “Everyone is trying to make the implications that it’s Chinese money, that it’s the Al Gore thing all over again, but I haven’t seen any proof of that,” said John A. Catsimatidis, a leading donor and fund-raiser for Mrs. Clinton in New York. Some donations connected to Mr. Hsu raise questions about his bundling activities, although there is no evidence he did anything improper. The Wall Street Journal reported that contributors he solicited included members of an extended family in Daly City, Calif., who had given $213,000 to candidates since 2004, even though some of them did not appear to have much money.

A lawyer for Mr. Hsu, E. Lawrence Barcella Jr., has said that Mr. Hsu was not the source of any of the money he raised from other people, which would be a violation of federal election laws. On his own, Mr. Hsu wrote checks totaling $255,970 to a variety of Democratic candidates and committees since 2004. Even though he was a bundler for Mrs. Clinton, his largess was spread across the Democratic Party and included $5,000 to the political action committee of Senator Barack Obama, Democrat of Illinois.Last month, Mr. Hsu was among the honored guests at a fund-raiser for Representative Patrick J. Kennedy, Democrat of Rhode Island, given by Stephen A. Schwarzman of the Blackstone Group at the New York Yacht Club. Al Franken, a Democratic Senate candidate in Minnesota, said he would divest his campaign of Mr. Hsu’s donations, as did Representatives Michael M. Honda and Doris O. Matsui of California and Representative Joe Sestak of Pennsylvania, all Democrats.

Mr. Hsu’s success on the political circuit was not always matched by success in business. Born and raised in Hong Kong, Mr. Hsu came to the United States when he was 18 to attend the University of California, Berkeley, as a computer science major. He later received an M.B.A. at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, according to a brief biography that appeared in apparel industry trade publications in 1986. With a group of partners from Hong Kong, Mr. Hsu started a sportswear company in 1982 called Laveno that went bankrupt two years later, not long after he left the company. From that, he cycled through several other enterprises, mostly men’s sportswear, under the Wear This, Base and Foreign Exchange labels.

Mr. Hsu’s career hit a low in 1989, when he began raising $1 million from investors as part of a plan to buy and resell latex gloves. Ronald Smetana, a lawyer with the California attorney general’s office, said Mr. Hsu was charged with stealing the investors’ money after it turned out he never bought any gloves and had no contract to resell them.When Mr. Hsu was to attend a sentencing hearing, he faxed a letter to his lawyer saying he had to leave town for an emergency and asking that the court date be rescheduled, Mr. Smetana said. He failed to show up for the rescheduled appearance, and a bench warrant was issued for his arrest. That was the last that prosecutors saw of Mr. Hsu. “We assumed he would go back to Hong Kong, where he could recede into anonymity,” Mr. Smetana said.

The California attorney general’s office declined to comment on how it intends to pursue Mr. Hsu. Mr. Hsu issued a statement yesterday, saying he was “surprised to learn that there appears to be an outstanding warrant” and insisting that he had “not sought to evade any of my obligations and certainly not the law.” “I would not consciously subject any of the candidates and causes in which I believe to any harm through my actions,” he said.

At some point, Mr. Hsu resurfaced in New York, where he was connected to several clothing-related businesses, according to campaign finance records, which list his occupation variously as an apparel consultant, clothing designer, retailer or company president. He also began to donate to the Democratic Party, and arranged for friends to do the same. He has been referred to in news accounts of campaign fund-raising events as an “apparel magnate” and his quick rise in the New York political and social scene — as well as his open checkbook — catapulted him into the big leagues.

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Fundraising is a dirty business. Every candidate takes whatever money is offered, and leaves it up to other people to investigate whether or not the source is legitimate or not.

This could really hurt Hillary politically if it resonates with people.

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Hillary's poll numbers are mind boggling to me. I know dozens of Democrats and only one of them would prefer Hillary over Obama or Edwards. It's as if her support is artificial. If I were a Republican, I would want her to win the Dem primary because she polls horribly with independants whereas Obama or Edwards would probably beat any Republican in an election.

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Caught a moment of Savage this evening (that's all it took for me to turn the radio off).

His big thing was that he was observing that the Gay Senator story broke one day before the fundraising fugitive. "A coincidence? I don't think so."

So, his conclusion for this timing? Yep. He's decided that the only possible explanation is that the Democrats leaked the gay Senator story one day before the fundraising fugitive, because they wanted to deflect attention away from their party's scandal.

Never mind that, if you assume that the 1-2 timing proves that political timing is at work (could be, IMO, but not proven), then you have to assume that:

  • If the D's were responsible for this timing, then you have to assume that the D's knew what tomorrow's headline would be.
  • Whereas, if the R's were responsible for the timing, then you only have to assume that the R's knew what yesterday's headline was.

But not Savage.

Given that on one day, we have the gay Senator story, and one day later we have the fugitive fundraiser, the only possible explanation is that the Democrats planned it that way, because they were deflecting attention from a scandal that hadn't broken yet.

(It was almost as big a hoot as listening to Rush's guess host referring to Craig as a man "who may or may not be gay".)

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