Former fat cat cleans floors at YMCA`

Posted: Aug 21, 2000 12:00 AM
Four years ago, Johnny Chung was a high-roller at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. He was a "fat cat" donor who had given $366,000 to the Democratic National Committee. That grease helped get him into the White House some 49 times, even though a National Security Council staffer warned the White House that Chung was a "hustler" who should be "treated with a pinch of suspicion." This year, even though he lives in the Los Angeles area, Chung didn't watch Bill Clinton speak Monday night. "My wife doesn't allow me to watch it," he said as we had breakfast at a coffee shop one morning this week. The Chungs, you see, are no longer anxious to cheer the Democrats to victory. Johnny Chung is serving five years probation because he laundered donations to the Democratic National Committee. A federal judge also sentenced Chung to 3,000 hours of community service. Most recently, he was doing janitorial work for at the Weingart/Lakewood YMCA. Executive director Joesph Twyman noted that Chung did outstanding work. "I have nothing but good things to say about him," said Twyman. Chung also has a job writing a column for the right-leaning news organization, in which he tells his story. To wit, "I was treated like an ATM machine by this administration." I have no intention of fobbing Chung off as an innocent. He was more than happy to break election laws when doing so granted him access to the halls of power. He also became a conduit who funneled donations from a Chinese government biggie to the Democrats ... proving the charge Sen. Fred Thompson made the first day of the Senate Government Affairs Ccommittee hearings on 1996 campaign-finance abuses. It was Chung who dubbed the famous analogy, "I see the White House like a subway ... you have to put in coins to open the gates." Now he says: "They used me just like I used them and I got caught." And: "I pleaded guilty. That means I know what I did was wrong." Chung's story wouldn't be worthy of note during this Democratic National Convention, except for two things. First, only the small fish have been sentenced in this fund-raising scandal. U.S. District Court Judge Manuel Real, who sentenced Chung in 1998, made it clear that he thinks former DNC chairman Don Fowler and former DNC finance director Richard Sullivan were culpable. "If Mr. Fowler and Mr. Sullivan didn't know what was going on, they're two of the dumbest politicians I've ever seen," Real said at the time. You would think that Democrats ... who are supposed to stand for the little guy ... would bristle at prosecutors who go after the small fish and while letting the big fish get away. But only, it seems, if the other party is in power. Second, the largely white DNC and White House suits have not faced criminal penalties, while players of Asian ethnicity ... Chung, Pauline Kanchanalak, Maria Hsia, John Huang, Charlie Trie ... have been prosecuted. Chung said he has been reluctant to use the "race card" ... but it's hard not to notice. When this money scandal first hit, Democrats were quick to charge the Thompson probe as "racist" and "Asian-bashing." They said this was a crusade to demonize Asian Americans. But when the Clinton Department of Justice goes after the Asians, yet fails to go after the white guys in expensive suits, well, the silence is deafening.