WASHINGTON -- It has happened again. Last Monday (Sept. 10) at 6:40 p.m., just as the network news programs were getting under way, the Clinton presidential campaign released some disturbing news. It would return $850,000 of donations raised by recent fugitive and convicted felon Norman Hsu, who, for the last three years, had been a major Clinton donor.
On Aug. 29, the Clintons employed the same maneuver. Then, just as the network news programs were reporting the day's news, the Clinton campaign announced that it would donate to charity $23,000 of campaign donations linked to the suddenly exposed Hsu. Well, at the time I suggested that Hsu was responsible for a lot more than $23,000, and again I heard the Bronx cheers from the Clintonistas. So now they admit the figure approaches a cool million.
I would not expect the Clintonistas to wise up and recognize the Clintons for the ethically insouciant couple that they are. Yet when will the press recognize this and get tired of being manipulated? Now that the Clintons are admitting to a much larger campaign fraud, will they release the names of those who donated the $850,000? Will the press demand it? Earlier reports in the Wall Street Journal made it pretty clear that some of Hsu's orchestrated donors could not possibly afford the donations they have made. So who are the others? Equally important, how did Hsu and his friends come up with all that money? When he returned to California to address the 1991 felony conviction that he had skipped out on, he put up a $2 million bond. Where did that money come from?
Late last winter, when the Clinton presidential campaign was getting under way, a New York Times writer interviewed me about Hillary Clinton's prospects with those who have been critical of her in years past. His thesis was that they had tired of criticizing her and would be relatively inert. My answer to him was that Clinton would continue to rouse critics because, together, the Clintons invariably do things that run the gamut from shady to illegal, acting as though they are above the law. That rouses critics.Since then reports have accumulated about some of the other ethically challenged patrons in their camp. There is the spectacular Hsu, and such picturesque figures as William Paw and his son, Winkle Paw, middle-class Americans of murky Asian ancestry who suddenly had hundreds of thousands to contribute. There is Vinod Gupta, CEO of InfoUSA, who after donating millions to various Clinton campaigns was unceremoniously removed from this one after it was reported that his company was being investigated for questionable dealings with the elderly. There is the founder of the Bombay Palace restaurant chain, Sant S. Chatwal. He has raised millions of dollars for Hillary Clinton's campaigns while facing bank fraud charges in India and contending with bankruptcy and tax liens amounting to millions of dollars on two continents.
In its announcement this week, the Clinton campaign promised to run criminal background checks on those who raise large amounts for it. Well, I suggest scrutinizing those Bill gets money from, too. Three years ago at the Tavern on the Green, Bill served as pitchman for a little-known Internet search engine founded by Marc Armand Rousso. A former promoter of penny stocks, Rousso in the late 1990s pleaded guilty to stock fraud in the United States and was convicted of similar fraud in France.
Along with campaign-finance violations there are the Clintons' other scrapes with the law -- all go back to Arkansas and will continue as long as they are in public life. The Democrats could save themselves a lot of disappointments by finding a cleaner presidential nominee than Hillary. The press cannot be manipulated forever, can it?