September 5, 2007
Fund Raising Corruption in the Land of Second ChancesBy Clarice Feldman
"Is this a great country, or what?" was the not terribly original opener with which a politician of my acquaintance regularly began his stump speeches decades ago. And the news this week on the campaign fundraising trail proves he was right.
A man (Mr. Norman Hsu) can be a convicted felon on the lam for 15 years from a guilty plea (which warrants as much as a three year jail term), have his name and face appear in countless news articles as a key fundraiser with no end of prominent Democrats including Hillary Clinton and Eliot Spitzer, and no one charged with enforcing the bench warrant knew where he was. After going on the lam, he could leave this country and return and still remain under the radar. In fact, even though his ex-wife is an Alameda, CA probation office employee, no one had a clue where he was.
The guilty plea was entered in a San Mateo County courthouse and yet the Democrat politicians in next door San Francisco took his money with no idea that he was an admitted felon. In fact to this day no one can find a visible means of Hsu's support whatsoever, and still through some wondrous miracle he was able to contribute hundreds of thousands of dollars in his own name and a great deal more bundled purportedly from people like the Paws who also seem to have no major financial resources and a Ms. Susan Chilman who describes herself as a "self-employed actress" and still none of the recipients of his largesse knew he was on the lam or that there might be something a little bit not kosher about these contributions.
But as they say on those early morning TV ads for single purpose kitchen gadgets of dubious efficacy-"Wait, there's more."
You can be this man with this history and be named a trustee at the Eugene Lang College of the New School university in New York, with former Loral chairman Bernard L. Schwartz, who was allowed by Hillary's husband to transfer restricted satellite and missile technology to a People's Liberation Army front over Department of Justice objections (coincidentally, I'm sure) after making a record contribution to him.
And even though you are listed on the university's publications, and even though you appear at a New York Yacht Club bash for Rep. Patrick Kennedy's birthday, you are still, so to speak, a man without a history. Nobody knows nothing.
You can be a major contributor to the DSSC headed by Senator Chuck Schumer, the chief peck sniff of the upper house and he -- who seems to know how everybody else should do his job -- doesn't know who you are. Clueless. In the dark.
Mr. Hsu is not alone in his ability to conjure up large sums of money for the Democrats out of thin air.
There's a Mr. Sant S. Chatwal, who despite a substantial reversal of fortune continued lavishly to fund the Clintons and, as luck would have it (another of those charming coincidences), managed to bail out of a lot of legal troubles on the cheap.
He was forced into bankruptcy in 1995 by three Indian banks that claimed he owed them millions from business loans and
But, wonder of wonders, despite these financial reversals, Chantwall was able a scant three years later to host a half-million dollar fundraiser at that Upper East Side penthouse for Hillary Clinton's Senate campaign.
Even more astonishing, after he threw these crumbs upon the water, he got samosas back:
Hillary's husband, in the same feculent tones purporting surprise at Sandy Berger's confession of having stolen and destroyed classified documents from the National Archives, says he's shocked to learn that Hsu was on the lam.
But Hillary and Bill seem to be surprised by so much that the rest of us are not.
I bet they don't know that Harold Ickes their longtime buddy and fundraiser, was at the center of the Teamstergate fundraising scandal; or that he regularly compromised U.S. security while collecting record amounts of soft money for them, often "cutting deals with Chinese intelligence agents eager to loosen up U.S. export controls on military technology."
That's why, despite all the hints of his involvement in Filegate and Chinagate and his generally poor reputation, Hillary insisted he be her chief campaign advisor for her 2000 election bid.
And she's a busy, busy Senator, so it probably never occurred to her that Ickes was known to have put together the Soros-funded 527 Shadow Party, including America Coming Together whose illegal collection and disbursement of soft money to the Democrats just earned it a $775,000 fine, the largest ever levied by the FEC.
So, she's happy to keep him on as "adviser to her campaign manager" as she campaigns for "transparent government."
Is this a great country, or what?
Clarice Feldman is an attorney in Washington, DC.