Pauline's Puny Punishment

Posted: Apr 25, 2001 12:00 AM
Remember Pauline Kanchanalak? Probably not. But if there were ever a poster girl for the futility of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform bill, Ms. Kanchanalak is it. Despite funneling nearly $700,000 in illegal foreign contributions to Democrats, Ms. Kanchanalak received a sentence last week that was lighter than a soap bubble. U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman, a Clinton appointee in Washington, D.C., who had originally thrown out the case but was overruled by higher courts, handed Ms. Kanchanalak six months of house arrest and three years of probation. Poor Ms. Kanchanalak will have to go to her hair salon wearing an electronic monitoring bracelet. Oh, hardship. For her elaborate crimes, she won't spend a single day behind bars. But she did receive a fine ... of $3,000. So she'll have to forego one or two Tiffany shopping sprees and dinner at Morton's. Aww. Judge Friedman's sentence wasn't a slap on the wrist. It was a French kiss. Friedman is the same judge who gave wine-and-roses treatment to two other Donorgate criminals, Buddhist temple money-launderer Maria Hsia and Clinton crony Charlie Trie. Nobody seems to give a damn about this gross violation of our political sovereignty -- not the reform-mongering media elite, nor the yapping, good-government watchdogs. But let me remind you, anyway, since Dan Rather and The New York Times editorial page won't, exactly what Ms. Kanchanalak did to corrupt our campaign finance system with her deluge of special-interest funny money: Ms. Kanchanalak is a citizen of Thailand. She does not have permanent resident status in the United States. One of the gazillion campaign finance laws already on the books prohibits non-citizens who don't have green cards from giving to U.S. campaigns and parties. Another federal law bars foreign corporations from contributing to our campaigns. Another bans straw donations. None of this stopped Ms. Kanchanalak, who lobbied for Thai corporations, from collecting gobs of money from foreign individuals and companies and laundering it through her mother-in-law and sister-in-law, who are permanent residents of the U.S. Some $328,500 of Ms. Kanchanalak's criminal cash went to the Democratic National Committee, $295,000 to 11 state Democratic Party organizations (including California, Florida, Illinois, Ohio and Pennsylvania), and the remainder to the 1996 Clinton-Gore campaign and leading Democrats, including former Sen. John Glenn of Ohio, Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts and Rep. Richard Gephardt of Missouri. Ms. Kanchanalak's foreign quid bought a lot of quo from Beltway pros. She visited the White House more than two dozen times. She was appointed to the DNC's finance board of directors and partied with former President Clinton at his 50th birthday bash. The White House recommended Ms. Kanchanalak for a position on a trade policy advisory committee that requires a security clearance and U.S. citizenship, even though she is a Thai citizen and hadn't submitted a proper application. In June 1996, Ms. Kanchanalak escorted three Asian business leaders to a White House coffee with Clinton. The executives worked for Charoen Pokphand Group, a Thai conglomerate that is the single largest foreign investor in China. They urged Clinton to visit Thailand; he later did. The meeting was arranged by chief Donorgate weasel and convicted felon John Huang. (Also in attendance at the intimate gathering was Democratic fund-raiser Beth Dozoretz, a central figure in that other major Clinton foreign policy sell-out -- the Marc Rich pardon.) In the days before and after the coffee, Ms. Kanchanalak gave Democrats more than $450,000 in illegal donations. She later hid corporate documents and erased computer hard drives in an effort to destroy evidence of her law-breaking. A measly $3,000 fine and a few years' probation for lying, obstructing justice and conspiring to undermine our election system. Who will stop other wealthy foreign influence-peddlers from buying off our politicians? McCain and Feingold? Congress? The courts? Ha.