Mama's Gotta a Brand New Hsu
Michelle and Allah both weigh in this morning on a shiny new story from the LA Times (which, incidentally, has sunk its teeth surprisingly deep into the Norman Hsu scandal, making it easily the outlet with the second best coverage of the affair, behind The Wall Street Journal) about a shiny new Chinese fundraising scandal for Hillary Clinton.
As yet, there's no readily identifiable kingpin at the center of this flap, but the gist is that parts of New York's Chinatown have become an improbably gilded neighborhood when Clinton comes calling.
Something remarkable happened at 44 Henry St., a grimy Chinatown tenement with peeling walls. It also happened nearby at a dimly lighted apartment building with trash bins clustered by the front door.
And again not too far away, at 88 E. Broadway beneath the Manhattan bridge, where vendors chatter in Mandarin and Fujianese as they hawk rubber sandals and bargain-basement clothes.
All three locations, along with scores of others scattered throughout some of the poorest Chinese neighborhoods in Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx, have been swept by an extraordinary impulse to shower money on one particular presidential candidate -- Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Dishwashers, waiters and others whose jobs and dilapidated home addresses seem to make them unpromising targets for political fundraisers are pouring $1,000 and $2,000 contributions into Clinton's campaign treasury. In April, a single fundraiser in an area long known for its gritty urban poverty yielded a whopping $380,000. When Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) ran for president in 2004, he received $24,000 from Chinatown.
This is a suboptimal development for Hillary, whose lowball estimates of Hsu's tainted fundraising (that eye-popping $850,000 wound up topping a million) and whose reluctant and only partial refunds of Hsu-connected donorations have stretched the candidate's credibility when it comes to her insistence that the perpetual irregularities that have plagued her (and her spouse's) political finances are issues all sanitized by the magical cleanser of public financing.
The unlikely vein of campaign gold Hillary seems to have tapped in Chinatown certainly appears to be of the familiar Clinton scandal genus, but the species isn't quite identifiable yet - are these straw donors being quietly reimbursed behind closed doors, are they hard-working immigrants being pressured by local heavies to dig deep for their Senator, or are might they simply be figmental?
The Times examined the cases of more than 150 donors who provided checks to Clinton after fundraising events geared to the Chinese community. One-third of those donors could not be found using property, telephone or business records. Most have not registered to vote, according to public records.
And several dozen were described in financial reports as holding jobs -- including dishwasher, server or chef -- that would normally make it difficult to donate amounts ranging from $500 to the legal maximum of $2,300 per election.
Of 74 residents of New York's Chinatown, Flushing, the Bronx or Brooklyn that The Times called or visited, only 24 could be reached for comment.
Previous Norman Hsu coverage.
Handcrafted by Flip on October 19, 2007 |
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