Just Who Is Mr. Hsu? (important update)

 This story is beginning to get very strange:


Investigators believe that after Mr. Hsu skipped his court appearance in 1992, he went to his native Hong Kong and then continued working in the garment trade. At some point, Mr. Hsu, a naturalized American citizen, returned to New York and in 2003 made the first of what became hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions to Democratic campaigns around the nation.

People who met him said they knew only that he ran an apparel business. Efforts to learn more about his trade hit dead-ends yesterday. Visits to companies at addresses listed by Mr. Hsu on campaign finance records provided little information. There were no offices in buildings in New York’s garment district whose addresses were given for businesses with names like Components Ltd., Cool Planets, Next Components, Coopgors Ltd., NBT and Because Men’s clothing — all listed by Mr. Hsu in federal filings at different times.

At a new loft-style residential condominium in SoHo that was also listed as an address for one of his companies, an employee there said that he had never seen or heard of Mr. Hsu. Another company was listed at a condo that Mr. Hsu had sublet in an elegant residential tower in Midtown Manhattan just off Fifth Avenue, but an employee there said Mr. Hsu moved out two years ago, after having lived there for five years. The employee, who was granted anonymity because he was not authorized to talk about residents, said he recalled that Mr. Hsu had received a lot of mail from the Democratic Party.
No apparent source of income from a guy who has contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Democratic party. A man who fled the United States in 1991 rather than go to jail for swindling investors only to return in 2003 from Hong Kong an incredibly wealthy man with many wealthy friends.

Something really stinks about this case. Could the People's Liberation Army in China be up to their old tricks in trying to influence Democratic party politics and American elections?

Many such unanswered questions swirl around Norman Hsu today. I speculate
a bit here.

Update written by Thomas Lifson

Glenn Reynolds notes that the fugitive Norman Hsu was also a trustee. From the NYT article:

Mr. Kerrey [former Sen., now New School head Bob Kerrey - ed.] said he was introduced to Mr. Hsu about two years ago, and shortly thereafter Mr. Hsu joined the board of governors at the Eugene Lang College for liberal arts at the New School. He joined the university's board of trustees last July.

"So much of the university is about the immigrant culture, and I liked his personal story, coming from China, and he had an interest in fashion as well," Mr. Kerrey said. "It all intrigued me."

He said that the university did not do background checks of prospective trustees, and that he saw no reason to ask Mr. Hsu to resign from its board.
Glenn comments:
This is probably not that unusual -- guy seems nice, has a lot of money to donate, and the diversity factor is a plus. So why look deeper? But it's wrong. Universities are, in fact, large and wealthy corporations possessing special legal status and imbued with public trust. Their boards oversee large expenditures in a fiduciary capacity. It's true that university administrators prefer for the boards to be mere rubber-stamps, but the management of most corporations would prefer less oversight from the board, too. We've moved away from that in the for-profit sector, but nonprofits haven't caught up. They need to, because there's a lot of money in the nonprofit sector now, and nowhere near the scrutiny over where it goes, either internally or externally.
Amen! The entire academic sector, one of the biggest industries in the country and one exceedingly dependent on direct and indirect public funding, has exempted itself from accountability at multiple levels. Trustees, bamboozled by academics claiming that exercise of necessary oversight amounts to an infringement on academic freedom, have defaulted on their moral, intellectual and too often even their financial fiduciary responsibilities. The American Council of Trustees and Alumni (with which I have been affiliated for many years) has been doing fine work alerting trustees to their responsbilities.

In my own view, the Hsu case illustrates one dirty corner of the academic-political connection. Almost un-remarked upon, higher education has become a financial and political mainstay of the Democratic Party, and faculties are overwhelmingly staffed by liberals. Allowing a crook on the board and keeping him there is a disgrace.

I used to respect Bob Kerrey a lot more. He remains a Medal of Honor winner, and so deserves respect under any circumstances. But he should live up to his sacred honor.

Hat tip: Rosslyn Smith
 This story is beginning to get very strange:


Investigators believe that after Mr. Hsu skipped his court appearance in 1992, he went to his native Hong Kong and then continued working in the garment trade. At some point, Mr. Hsu, a naturalized American citizen, returned to New York and in 2003 made the first of what became hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions to Democratic campaigns around the nation.

People who met him said they knew only that he ran an apparel business. Efforts to learn more about his trade hit dead-ends yesterday. Visits to companies at addresses listed by Mr. Hsu on campaign finance records provided little information. There were no offices in buildings in New York’s garment district whose addresses were given for businesses with names like Components Ltd., Cool Planets, Next Components, Coopgors Ltd., NBT and Because Men’s clothing — all listed by Mr. Hsu in federal filings at different times.

At a new loft-style residential condominium in SoHo that was also listed as an address for one of his companies, an employee there said that he had never seen or heard of Mr. Hsu. Another company was listed at a condo that Mr. Hsu had sublet in an elegant residential tower in Midtown Manhattan just off Fifth Avenue, but an employee there said Mr. Hsu moved out two years ago, after having lived there for five years. The employee, who was granted anonymity because he was not authorized to talk about residents, said he recalled that Mr. Hsu had received a lot of mail from the Democratic Party.
No apparent source of income from a guy who has contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Democratic party. A man who fled the United States in 1991 rather than go to jail for swindling investors only to return in 2003 from Hong Kong an incredibly wealthy man with many wealthy friends.

Something really stinks about this case. Could the People's Liberation Army in China be up to their old tricks in trying to influence Democratic party politics and American elections?

Many such unanswered questions swirl around Norman Hsu today. I speculate
a bit here.

Update written by Thomas Lifson

Glenn Reynolds notes that the fugitive Norman Hsu was also a trustee. From the NYT article:

Mr. Kerrey [former Sen., now New School head Bob Kerrey - ed.] said he was introduced to Mr. Hsu about two years ago, and shortly thereafter Mr. Hsu joined the board of governors at the Eugene Lang College for liberal arts at the New School. He joined the university's board of trustees last July.

"So much of the university is about the immigrant culture, and I liked his personal story, coming from China, and he had an interest in fashion as well," Mr. Kerrey said. "It all intrigued me."

He said that the university did not do background checks of prospective trustees, and that he saw no reason to ask Mr. Hsu to resign from its board.
Glenn comments:
This is probably not that unusual -- guy seems nice, has a lot of money to donate, and the diversity factor is a plus. So why look deeper? But it's wrong. Universities are, in fact, large and wealthy corporations possessing special legal status and imbued with public trust. Their boards oversee large expenditures in a fiduciary capacity. It's true that university administrators prefer for the boards to be mere rubber-stamps, but the management of most corporations would prefer less oversight from the board, too. We've moved away from that in the for-profit sector, but nonprofits haven't caught up. They need to, because there's a lot of money in the nonprofit sector now, and nowhere near the scrutiny over where it goes, either internally or externally.
Amen! The entire academic sector, one of the biggest industries in the country and one exceedingly dependent on direct and indirect public funding, has exempted itself from accountability at multiple levels. Trustees, bamboozled by academics claiming that exercise of necessary oversight amounts to an infringement on academic freedom, have defaulted on their moral, intellectual and too often even their financial fiduciary responsibilities. The American Council of Trustees and Alumni (with which I have been affiliated for many years) has been doing fine work alerting trustees to their responsbilities.

In my own view, the Hsu case illustrates one dirty corner of the academic-political connection. Almost un-remarked upon, higher education has become a financial and political mainstay of the Democratic Party, and faculties are overwhelmingly staffed by liberals. Allowing a crook on the board and keeping him there is a disgrace.

I used to respect Bob Kerrey a lot more. He remains a Medal of Honor winner, and so deserves respect under any circumstances. But he should live up to his sacred honor.

Hat tip: Rosslyn Smith