WASHINGTON -- I hope you followed the news with the utmost care last week. A stupendous story peeked into the media, grew to adulthood in no time and vanished.
The news story began with The Wall Street Journal's report that Hong Kong-born Norman Hsu appeared to have "bundled" vast amounts of money into donations to Democrats. Particularly blessed was the Clinton presidential campaign. Among Hsu's contributors were the Paws, a modest California Chinese-American family of a mail carrier whose annual salary is $45,000, but nevertheless has donated $244,000 to the Democrats since 2004 -- $55,000 of which went to the Clinton campaign. So prominent has Hsu been among Clinton donors that he has been anointed a "HillRaiser," someone who has pledged at least $100,000 to the Clinton cause. The Journal reports that Democratic sources claim his donations to the Clintons amount to "well over $1 million."
The story gets better. Hsu's sudden notoriety alerted officials in California that he is a convicted felon who has been on the lam since 1992. That news broke late in the week when Hsu turned himself in and posted $2 million for bail. Over the weekend the story died, and this week Hsu failed to show up for his bail hearing.
I suppose this is what the Clintons call "old news." Asian money from shadowy types has figured in Clinton campaigns going back to at least 1986. Writing in The American Spectator even prior to the Clinton campaign finance scandals of the mid-1990s, James Ring Adams followed the Riadys, an Indonesian family of Chinese ancestry then prominent among Clinton supporters and White House guests, back to Arkansas in 1986, when the Riadys played their eleemosynary role in Gov. Bill Clinton's reelection. In the autumn of 1992 the family illegally pumped as much as $1 million into Clinton's presidential campaign and in 2001 paid an $8.6 million fine for its indiscretions. In that settlement it admitted to 86 misdemeanor charges of making illegal foreign campaign contributions from 1988 to 1994. The Clintons dismiss The American Spectator as part of the "vast right-wing conspiracy," though we have never been wrong when we made their "old news" new news.
In 1998 the Senate Government Affairs Committee report on the Clintons' 1996 fundraising scandal claimed "strong circumstantial evidence" that the Riadys may have illegally funneled money into the 1996 campaign. Whether they did or not, that 1996 campaign abounded with dubious Asian donors, many of whom paid hefty fines for illegal contributions. Former Democratic National Committee finance chair John Huang pleaded guilty to felony campaign finance violations after the Justice Department estimated that he arranged for some $156,000 in illegal contributions to his party. Just to be safe, the party returned more than $1 million. Pauline Kanchanalak, a Thai businesswoman, admitted to making $690,000 in illegal contributions to the Democrats, $457,000 after a June 18, 1996, coffee at the White House with President Clinton. Charlie Trie, a former fry cook from Little Rock, was convicted of federal campaign finance violations after he donated nearly $300,000 to the Democrats in the mid-1990s and personally delivered at least $640,000 in questionable checks and money orders to the Clintons' legal defense. Taiwan-born Maria Hsia, a friend of Al Gore since 1988, was convicted of arranging more than $100,000 of illegal donations to the Democratic Party during the 1996 presidential cycle from a Buddhist temple.
And there is more. Johnny Chung pleaded guilty to numerous felonies committed during that race. He donated $366,000 to the Democratic National Committee, $35,000 of which he admitted came from Lt. Col. Liu Chaoying of the People's Liberation Army. In May, 1999, Chung testified before the U.S. House of Representatives that Liu introduced him to Gen. Ji Shengde, head of Chinese military intelligence, who told him, "We like your president very much. We would like to see him reelect [sic]. I will give you 300,000 U.S. dollars. You can give it to the president and the Democratic Party." Perhaps one of the reasons the Clintons can dismiss so many of the scandals in their wake as "old stories" is that the Clintons are what law-enforcement officials call "repeat offenders." But I am perplexed as to why the mainstream media do not catch on. The Hsu stories in the press reported that he is a "textile executive." From what my reporters have been able to discover, his textile concerns have no offices and no legitimate addresses. Philip Klein found that one of the addresses for Hsu's campaign finance filings is the site of the Mid-Manhattan Public Library. Put another way, this major Democratic donor seems to have had no visible means of support. Now he is a missing person.