If there is one thing the media agrees upon it is that Hillary Clinton runs a shrewd and disciplined campaign. This mantra runs through practically every media mention as they report the tried and true horse race story lines.
But the ongoing Norman Hsu fundraising scandal has to call into question this basic premise. The New York Times noted this week that Hillary was afraid that a fundraising scandal could harm her campaign. And yet faced with an unknown figure coming out of nowhere to become one of her, and her party’s, biggest fundraisers didn’t raise any red flags.
Despite the scandals of illegal campaign contributions from a variety of shady characters with connections to communist China that surrounded her husband’s reelection campaign, Hillary acted like Hsu’s contributions and bundling were completely normal.
Even when contacted directly with serious questions about Hsu’s potentially criminal past the campaign insisted that Hsu was "COMPLETELY legit" in the words of one staffer’s email. When the Wall Street Journal ran a story that questioned whether the people Hsu was bundling contributions from were financially able to make such large donations, the campaign insisted nothing was wrong and issued this statement:
"Norman Hsu is a longtime and generous supporter of the Democratic Party and its candidates, including Sen. Clinton. During Mr. Hsu's many years of active participation in the political process, there has been no question about his integrity or his commitment to playing by the rules, and we have absolutely no reason to call his contributions into question or to return them."
When it turned out that, contrary to this statement, he was a fugitive from justice they grudgingly decided to give to charity the $23,000 Hsu had directly donated but insisted on keeping the bundled contributions. When serious questions were raised about the legitimacy of those bundled funds they finally acquiesced in returning them, but have declined to release any details about these donors.
Initially, it even appeared the campaign was going to re-solicit these donors in order to avoid losing all of the donations, but they quickly backtracked when this raised even more questions.
The Hillary campaign blames these problems on the lack of evidence in the public record and insists they did their due diligence. But everyone seems to have more information than her campaign. The Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, a variety of columnists, and even bloggers have all dug up more information than the vaunted vetting process of the Hillary campaign.
Hsu’s past is full of vague finances, bankruptcy, dummy companies, and addresses that lead nowhere. The people he bundled money from seem to lack the financial ability to make such large donations and appear to have been reimbursed from some of these dummy companies.
If you get a bundle of very large donations from numerous members of the same family who all live in the same house and appear to have modest means shouldn’t that raise a flag for further follow up? Why is it that countless journalists and bloggers can unearth this information and yet Hillary Clinton claims this was all an honest mistake? Given her history doesn’t this seem sloppy and even reckless?
Buried in the middle of a recent New York Times article was the real answer–Hillary’s need for cash once again outweighed her judgments and competence. This is in fact just how the Clintons operate:
“People have often said about the Clintons, they don’t care who they hang out with as long as the people can be helpful to them,” said one of Mrs. Clinton’s major fund-raisers. “The larger point in all of this is that the Clintons are the ultimate pragmatists in who they hang out with; if you can be useful to them, they will find a way to make it work.”
Hillary Clinton insists she is the candidate of both change and experience. She has experience all right; the experience of doing whatever it takes to raise the millions of dollars it takes to get her elected. What about change? Well, some things never change.