Hillary's 3Q Refunds Part II: Return To Sender
I'm still in the process of separating out Hillary's 250ish Hsu-connected donors into their respective groups (allegedly swindled investors and suspected straw donors) and collecting the contributions these new donors made in prior quarters.
In my last post, I noted that 24 of the 26 Clinton-supporting donors we already knew about appear to have received only partial or no refunds this quarter (an aggregate discrepancy of roughly $125,000). It's not too surprising then that the new names on the list also appear to be frequently under-refunded.
Assuming the discrepancies represent donations made to Hillary's Senate campaign (rather than her Presidential campaign), it's still not clear whether she has already or intends to refund those contributions (since those paper filings are not yet available for review). Either way though, whether she's refunding them from the other committee or whether she's decided to keep those funds, the total Hsu-connected contributions to Hillary the candidate will wind up being far higher than the $850,000 figure she disclosed last month.
Neglecting to refund the Senate-side contributions from Hsu-related donors (if that's the explanation for the discrepancy) could be the product either of heroic brazenness or extreme sloppiness. And while I won't accuse Clinton of not being brazen, the more I look at the 3rd quarter filing, the more I'm leaning toward extreme sloppiness.
I realized something was seriously askew when I noticed a few California addresses among the refunded donors with New York City ZIP codes. And vice versa. With a little help from Google Maps, I ran the ZIP code for each of the nearly 250 refunds issued on 9/14 and found that 118 (47%) were incorrect. What's more, 66 of the ZIP codes used (27%) didn't even hit the right state. They're frequently hundreds or even thousands of miles off.
- Deborah Webster of Huntington Beach? Her refund went to Miami Beach: 2,700 miles off.
- Stephanie Trinidad of Palo Alto? Hers went to the Bronx: 2,900 miles off.
- Charles Lafollette of Manhattan? Honolulu: 5,000 miles off.
If this wasn't a last minute clerical error (one which only affected the disclosure filing and not the mailings) and these ZIP codes were actually used as reported, something tells me a lot of these mislabeled refunds (which exceed $215,000) are never finding their way to their addressees.
But back to the issue of whether the under-refunded contributors are actually receiving their full refunds (and we just can't tell because we can't see the Senate-side disclosure yet), I'm leaning ever further toward no. Whether the inaccurate Clinton estimate of $850,000 came in too low because she's planning on keeping tainted funds that came in through the Senate door or whether sloppiness prevented the campaign from even noticing those funds when sweeping up the Hsu monies, the fact that the campaign's estimate excludes such funds suggests they're not part of any refund plan.
To that point, I heard from a member of the Orange County investor group earlier today who reports on a Clinton refund that came in about 37% light. Of course it's possible that there's another check on the way, but Hillary claimed on Meet the Press more than three weeks ago that all refunds had been issued. Mail doesn't take that long (unless it has a bogus ZIP code of course).
The next installment will be a new Clinton grand total, including the actual refunds issued (between $800,000 and $850,000), the $125,000 discrepancy associated with the original 26 known donors, and the yet-to-be-quantified discrepancies that also appear to plague the roster of the 200+ newly unearthed donors.
Any guesses where the wheel stops? We know it'll be north of $925,000. If the discrepancy rate remains unchanged, the tally could top $2 million. Register your pick in the comments. TPIR rules, but only your most recent guess counts.
This way to previous Hsu coverage.
Update: A couple updates regarding the ZIP code issue in Part III.
Update: I've heard back from one of the NYC donors listed in the filing with a bad ZIP code. While he didn't keep the envelope, the letter enclosed with his refund reflected his correct ZIP code, so it seems likely that this was a foul up contained at the disclosure level. The campaign ought to file an amended report so the database will be accurate, but hopefully the refunds (while frequently partial) will all reach their addressees.
Handcrafted by Flip on October 16, 2007 |
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