Hsocking Hsu Secrets Revealed!
[An important correction to certain details in this post is available here.]
If there's one thing that can be said about Clinton financial scandals, it's that they tend to be complex. And thus far, the Norman Hsu debacle is living up to the archetype.
This rabbit hole is proving to be a fair bit deeper than anyone might've guessed and we're about to plumb its depths. If you're reading this, it means you're taking the red pill.
Two of the biggest open questions were always 1) where is Hsu - a convicted con man and fugitive with no documented ability to turn a legitimate buck - getting these gobs of money, and 2) why is he squandering it on all these Democrats?
These specific Democrats.
We seem to have gotten at least part of the answer to the first question, as Hsu has recently been accused of swindling investors out of as much as $70 million in a variety of Ponzi schemes and other bogus investments. The second question though, has been naggingly impenetrable. After all, if Hsu was simply buying his way into the inner circles of various celebrity politicians, whether for his own ego or to project more credibility and gravitas to his marks (or both), why would his fundraising have been so unwaveringly partisan - targeting only members of the minority party and only very specific members of that party. Hsu's network finance the campaigns of more than 80 Democrats - from Presidential candidates to state legislators and town supervisors. From the newest newbies (including a majority of the first-time candidates who became Senate freshmen this year) to some of the body's dustiest relics (Kennedy, Biden, et al).
Yet Chuck Schumer, for example, Hillary's senior counterpart in New York, never saw a dime. Fellow New York politicians Eliot Spitzer, Andrew Cuomo, Anthony Weiner, Kristen Gillibrand, and others received hundreds of separate contributions, totalling many hundreds of thousands of dollars. Schumer: bubkes.
Debbie Stabenow (D-MI): $29,613... Carl Levin (D-MI): squat. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV): $23,000... Robert Byrd (D-WV): zilch.
You get the idea. The points is that Hsu's specific slate of favored candidates (itemized here) seemed to be deliberate and predetermined and was not satisfyingly explained away by any of his speculated motivations. This has actually been helpful in ferreting out Hsu's donor network though - when you happen on an individual with a huge string of contributions not only to Clinton and Obama, but to several specific Democratic committees and to specific Democrats like Tom Harkin, Patrick Kennedy, Kristen Gillibrand, Dianne Feinstein, and Hsu's other favorites, you've found someone worth looking into.
The mystery of Hsu's candidate slate is a vexing one. Enlightenment, however, appears to be tucked away in a single transaction listed in a NYC Campaign Finance Board disclosure.
Contributor: Norman Hsu
Employer: Next Components
Candidate: Christine Quinn
Intermediary: Lillian Vernon
This is peculiar. As an A-list Democratic fundraiser, Hsu is typically the bundler in these transactions, not the bundlee. So what gives?
Lillian Vernon is a trinket catalog company, perhaps best known for its constant lampooning on Mad TV. It was founded by Lillian Hochberg in Mount Vernon, NY (clever, eh?) in 1951. Lillian's son Fred is the current CEO and his brother David is an executive at the company.
If you run a search for Fred Hochberg's own federal political contributions, the telltale Hsu pattern once again emerges. The same goes for Lillian Vernon's corporate contributions. From all the federal and state records, as well as the municipal filings in New York, L.A., and San Francisco, I've compiled a full accounting of the donations made by both the company itself and Fred and David Hochberg and updated the Google spreadsheet with a separate Hochberg tab.
Two points are crucial here.
1) Ever since Hsu became a major fundraiser, there have been notable similarities between his and Hochberg/Lillian Vernon's contributions that strain the limits of coincidence. Not only is there significant overlap among several far-flung candidates who wouldn't typically be of much interest to New York businessmen, but the size and timing of many of the transactions further suggest the efforts are coordinated.
10/24/05: Fred Hochberg contributes $2,000 to Ted Kennedy.
10/24/05: A Hsu donor in California contributes $2,100 to Ted Kennedy.
6/6/06: Lillian Vernon contributes $25,000 to Eliot Spitzer.
6/7/06: Norman Hsu contributes $25,000 to Eliot Spitzer.
1/26/07: Fred Hochberg contributes $2,300 to Hillary Clinton.
1/26/07: Hsu and various Hsu donors across the country make a total of 8 contributions to Hillary Clinton ranging from $1,900-2,100 each.
3/28/07: Hsu and various Hsu donors make a total of 11 contributions to Clinton, totaling $23,400 (most at the $2,300 maximum).
3/31/07: Lillian Vernon makes 2 contributions to Clinton, totalling $4,600.
5/3/07: Norman Hsu makes 2 contributions to Mark Pryor, totalling $2,500.
5/3/07: Fred Hochberg contributes $2,300 to Mark Pryor.
6/5/07: Norman Hsu contributes $4,950 to Christine Quinn, his first and only direct contribution to Quinn.
6/5/07: Lillian Vernon contributes $110 to Chrinstine Quinn, for the first time in 4 years.
Here, the Hsu-slighted senior Senator from New York pitches in by serving as the exception that proves the rule. Schumer actually used to enjoy regular financial support from Hochberg. He and his company made several sizable contributions to Schumer's campaigns between 1997 and 2003... then the gravy train came screeching to a halt. Not a single contribution after March 2003. It's anyone's guess why, but if Chuck did something to sour Hochberg, it would explain his conspicuous absence among both Hochberg's and Hsu's bountiful largesse heaped on just about every other notable Democrat in New York State over the following 4 years.
These are all anecdotal observations of course, but I've made the whole data set of Hsu-related transactions available, so you can go exploring for additional interestingly timed contributions.
2) Hochberg's political benefaction predates Hsu's by several years. While Hsu didn't get his start until 2003 and didn't really hit his stride until late 2004, Lillian Vernon and the Hochbergs contributed more than a half million dollars to Democrats in the decade prior to Hsu's political foray (and more than a quarter million more since). This suggests the slate of candidates whose palms Hsu has chosen to cross with silver these last few years was not the product of either Hsu's own ideology or any specific partisan motivation. It seems more likely that the pols Hsu began to grease were simply co-opted from Hochberg's list of favored candidates.
The fact that the Hsu pattern predates Hsu's career as a Democratic booster means the original architect of the candidate slate is likely near the nexus of Hsu's political awakening, which makes that architect pivotal to the Hsu story. To be clear, this doesn't necessarily imply that Hochberg's contributions (or the many individuals that he bundles) are tainted the way contributions from Hsu's donor network are. Hochberg may well have gone on making these same contributions had Hsu never entered the picture. The significance of the Hsu pattern actually being a borrowed Hochberg pattern is that it strongly implies a close and ongoing association between Hsu and Hochberg.
The contribution patterns alone are sufficient to draw that inference, but as you might guess, we're not done descending the rabbit hole.
But wait... there's more. Some cursory digging on Fred Hochberg reveals something interesting. He's a fellow HillRaiser. Thanks to a bit of alphabetical kismet, you can see his name directly above Hsu's on Hillary's official HillRaiser roster. [Update: Hillary finally removed Hsu from her list, but there's the screenshot.]
But wait... there's still more. Hochberg is also a dean at the New School, where Hsu was a trustee until this scandal broke last month and the school hurriedly removed his name from their website. Also on the New School board is Bernard Schwartz, one of Bill Clinton's biggest financial backers and the central figure in Clinton's scandal involving the sale of missile technology to China.
And the lily gilder: Fred Hochberg was a member of President Clinton's Cabinet.
Yes, Fred Hochberg, a dean at the school where Hsu served as a trustee, one of Hsu's fellow HillRaisers, CEO of the company that officially bundled at least one of Hsu's direct contributions as recently as this summer, and the apparent architect of Hsu's favored candidate slate, was installed as one of the country's senior-most federal policymakers by Bill Clinton.
Hochberg was tapped to become the SBA's deputy adminstrator in 1998 and some time thereafter became the acting administrator. The SBA administrator is not a current Cabinet-level position. Clinton elevated the position to Cabinet rank, a move Bush has undone. Not long before his executive appointment, Hochberg had enjoyed another kind of Presidential access, as a member of Clinton's bescandaled "White House Coffee" guest list.
Where does all this leave us? There are still a lot of details yet to emerge that will undoubtedly shed additional light on these linakges, but it seems quite clear that Norman Hsu and Fred Hochberg are and have for some time been closely associated. It's abundantly clear that the Clintons and Hochberg are quite intimately associated. This seems to draw Hsu and Clinton uncomfortably close to one another.
And while the complexity and duplicity that saturates this whole affair may offer Hillary a bit of confusion cover that she can use to equivocate when pressed, it's now becoming increasingly far-fetched that Hillary took Norman Hsu for no more than a kindly, deep-pocketed fan.
Let's just say it requires a willing suspension of disbelief.
For those of you waiting for the newest data update, it's all polished up and uploaded to the Google doc. A couple notes about this iteration:
- The grand total is now $2.56 million (within 1% of the Abramoff threshold)
- 3 new contributors have been added since the last update
- Khin Mon
Homemaker, Daly City, CA
Total contributions: $12,100 from 2005-2006
Contributed to Hillary: $4,200
- Solange Sandy
Actress, New York, NY
Total contributions: $35,450 from 2005-2007
Contributed to Hillary: $4,200
- Suzanne Raffaelli
Model, New York, NY
Total contributions: $86,250 from 2004-2007
Contributed to Hillary: $7,800
- Khin Mon
- Exciting note about Khin Mon - according to the campaign finance disclosures, she lives with the many Paws who occupy that cozy green house on Shelbourne Avenue in Daly City, CA.
- Recipients of Hsu-connected funds: 85 Democratic candidates and candidate PACs, 22 Democratic committees and state parties, 1 Republican candidate
- Cooling their heels on the periphery, awaiting further review of their contribution patterns and relationship to Hsu and his business interests are 3 possible Hsu family members (not including his ex-wife), accounting for more than $200,000 in contributions; a group of law firm employees, accounting for more than $100,000 in contributions; two individuals, accounting for a combined $60,000 in contributions; and the New York family referenced in the last update, accounting for up to $700,000 in contributions.
Also blogging this today:
Ace of Spades (who hauled out the flaming skull for the occasion), Instapundit, Allah (praise him), LGF, Power Line, Captain Ed, Flopping Aces, Blue Crab Boulevard, JammieWearingFool, Right Voices. Together, they're bathing this site in a terribly agreeable traffic flood.
Runaround Hsu: The Music Video
Hillary, Truth Not At Peace Over $850,000 Said Refunded [Update: Feds File Charges]
Another Clinton Bundler Accused of Reimbursing Donors
Some Oddities About Hsu's Ostensibly Unwitting Woodstock Backer
Mesa County DA: $4 Million Bond Not Enough To Cage Hsu [Update: $5 Million Is?]
Dems Lowballing Hsu Fundraising Totals [Update: Hsu Offsets?]
Hsu Sent Suicide Note [Update: Blaming Obama]
Federal Agencies Unofficially Probing Hsu Scandal Number [At Least] 4
Hsu's Financing Source Revealed
Hillary's Massive Hsu War Chest: Abramoff Parity Nears
Photoblog: Touring Norman Hsu's New York
Hsu Captured! (Drugged?)
Hsu Still A HillRaiser In Good Standing?
Knock, Knock, Knockin' On Norman's Door.
Hsu Reclaims Fugitive Status, Forfeiting $2 Million Bail
Hsu vs. Abramoff
New Hsu Review: Following [the Rest Of] the Money
A Really Big Hsu...
Hillary Vows To Give [At Least Some Of] Hsu Contributions To Charity
From Now On, When the Phone Rings You Say, "Vandelay Industries."
Handcrafted by Flip on September 21, 2007 |
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