Friday, August 31, 2007

Norman Hsu is Shady Character in Democratic Fundraising Circles

This morning's Los Angeles Times has an excellent background story on Norman Hsu, the mystery Democratic fundraiser who's at the center of Hillary Clinton's fundraising scandal:

Money has brought both trappings and trouble for Norman Hsu. Major contributions to the campaigns of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and other candidates have made the apparel executive an insider in elite political circles. He shows up in cozy pictures with politicians, at lavish fundraising events, and on the boards of prestigious organizations.

But Hsu's history includes more unsavory episodes and associations. In 1990, he allegedly was kidnapped by Chinese gang members in San Francisco as part of an apparent effort to collect a debt. A year and a half later, he pleaded no contest to a charge of fleecing investors in what authorities called a Ponzi scheme of fraud. Along the way, he left a bankruptcy filing and bitter investors who accused him of making off with their savings.

Hsu is now at the center of a political scandal, with Sen. Clinton (D-N.Y.) and others rushing to return his contributions and sever embarrassing ties to a man still wanted on an outstanding warrant for the fraud case in California. Hsu could turn himself in as early as today in San Mateo County, where a hearing on the matter has been scheduled.

Read the whole thing. Hsu's a fugitive from justice who enjoys a reclusive life of luxury. Yet, Democratic Party bigwigs have welcomed Hsu into their fundraising circles, apparently oblivious to his shady side:

Hsu has donated or raised more than $1 million for Democrats and their causes, often delivering large donations from multiple individuals. Some of these "bundled" contributions have raised suspicions. In particular, Hsu has worked closely with a family in Daly City, Calif., headed by William Paw, a mail carrier, and his wife, Alice, who is listed as a homemaker.

The Paws apparently never donated to national candidates until 2004. Since then, they have given $213,000, including $55,000 to Clinton. Barcella denies Hsu provided money for the contributions, which would violate federal law. The Paws, Barcella said, "have the financial wherewithal to make their own donations."As a result of his largesse, Hsu's stock rose rapidly in Democratic circles.

He is a member of Clinton's "HillRaiser" group, made up of individuals who each pledge to raise more than $100,000 for her presidential campaign. Hsu helped host a series of high-profile events, including one in March at the Beverly Hills home of Ron Burkle, an ardent Clinton backer. In May, he co-hosted a fundraiser in Palo Alto with Susie Tompkins Buell, another Clinton bundler.
Captain Ed wonders where Hsu got all his money (and check Memeorandum for additional commentary).

A look at the Times piece suggests Hsu was a shady hustler running Ponzi schemes. The deeper question is why wasn't Hsu vetted more carefully by those who have welcomed him into the top circles of the Democratic Party establishment.

No comments: