Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Hsu Creates a Scandal for Hillary, Many Other Dems

Yesterday Lefty bloggers accused me and others of hyperventilating about the report that a wealthy Democratic fundraiser was coordinating donations with other donors of modest means. Apparently if you see smoke, you're not allowed to suggest there might be fire.

According to the LATimes, investigators are trying to get their hands on Norman Hsu:

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.

Howard Wolfson's and the rest of Hillary's team are likely to distance themselves from Hsu quickly. They'll point out that he's given to dozens of Democrats, and try to minimize the fact that he favors Hillary for President.

In the meantime, Hsu's name will also find its way into the campaigns of Republicans opposing Al Franken, Kirsten Gillibrand, Mary Landrieu, Patrick Murphy, and many others. Those Democrats will be asked to return their donations from Hsu and his associates.

With Larry Craig likely to remain in the news for at least a little while, it's a curious reminder that Republicans have sex scandals and Democrats have money scandals.

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