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Hillary Shakes Down Chinatown “Immigrants”

From a seemingly re-born Los Angeles Times:

An unlikely treasure-trove of donors for Clinton

The candidate’s unparalleled fundraising success relies largely on the least-affluent residents of New York’s Chinatown — some of whom can’t be tracked down.

By Peter Nicholas and Tom Hamburger, Los Angeles Times Staff Writers

October 19, 2007

NEW YORK — Something remarkable happened at 44 Henry St., a grimy Chinatown tenement with peeling walls. It also happened nearby at a dimly lighted apartment building with trash bins clustered by the front door.

And again not too far away, at 88 E. Broadway beneath the Manhattan bridge, where vendors chatter in Mandarin and Fujianese as they hawk rubber sandals and bargain-basement clothes.

All three locations, along with scores of others scattered throughout some of the poorest Chinese neighborhoods in Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx, have been swept by an extraordinary impulse to shower money on one particular presidential candidate — Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Dishwashers, waiters and others whose jobs and dilapidated home addresses seem to make them unpromising targets for political fundraisers are pouring $1,000 and $2,000 contributions into Clinton’s campaign treasury. In April, a single fundraiser in an area long known for its gritty urban poverty yielded a whopping $380,000. When Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) ran for president in 2004, he received $24,000 from Chinatown

Clinton has enlisted the aid of Chinese neighborhood associations, especially those representing recent immigrants from Fujian province. The organizations, at least one of which is a descendant of Chinatown criminal enterprises that engaged in gambling and human trafficking, exert enormous influence over immigrants. The associations help them with everything from protection against crime to obtaining green cards.

Many of Clinton’s Chinatown donors said they had contributed because leaders in neighborhood associations told them to. In some cases, donors said they felt pressure to give.

The other piece of the strategy involves holding out hope that, if Clinton becomes president, she will move quickly to reunite families and help illegal residents move toward citizenship…

The Times examined the cases of more than 150 donors who provided checks to Clinton after fundraising events geared to the Chinese community. One-third of those donors could not be found using property, telephone or business records. Most have not registered to vote, according to public records.

And several dozen were described in financial reports as holding jobs — including dishwasher, server or chef — that would normally make it difficult to donate amounts ranging from $500 to the legal maximum of $2,300 per election.

Of 74 residents of New York’s Chinatown, Flushing, the Bronx or Brooklyn that The Times called or visited, only 24 could be reached for comment.

Many said they gave to Clinton because they were instructed to do so by local association leaders. Some said they wanted help on immigration concerns. And several spoke of the pride they felt by being associated with a powerful figure such as Clinton…

The effort is especially pronounced among groups in the Fujianese community. More than a decade ago, Fujianese cultural associations ran gambling operations and, more ominously, at least one was home to a gang that trafficked in illegal Fujian native immigrants.

The human-smuggling problem came to a head in 1993, when a cargo ship, the Golden Venture, ran aground off New York City. As shocked police and immigration officials looked on, hundreds of Fujian natives who had spent weeks below deck struggled to make it to shore. Several died in the attempt.

A crackdown by the FBI’s organized-crime task force led to the indictment of more than 20 Fujian native traffickers…

Although Motyka is wary of the havoc wreaked in the past by Fujianese organized crime, he said: “I welcome signs that the community is participating in politics.” …

Missing persons

The tenement at 44 Henry St. was listed in Clinton’s campaign reports as the home of Shu Fang Li, who reportedly gave $1,000…

A tenant living in the apartment listed as Li’s address said through a translator that she had not heard of him, although she had lived there for the last 10 years.

A man named Liang Zheng was listed as having contributed $1,000. The address given was a large apartment building on East 194th Street in the Bronx, but no one by that name could be located there.

Census figures for 2000 show the median family income for the area was less than $21,000. About 45% of the population was living below the poverty line, more than double the city average.

In the busy heart of East Broadway, beneath the Manhattan Bridge, is a building that is listed as the home of Sang Cheung Lee, also reported to have given $1,000. Trash was piled in the dimly lighted entrance hall. Neighbors said they knew of no one with Lee’s name there; they knocked on one another’s doors in a futile effort to find him.

Salespeople at a store on Canal Street were similarly baffled when asked about Shih Kan Chang, listed as working there and having given $1,000. The store sells purses, jewelry and novelty Buddha statues. Employees said they had not heard of Chang.

Another listed donor, Yi Min Liu, said he did not make the $1,000 contribution in April that was reported in his name. He said he attended a banquet for Clinton but did not give her money.

Clinton “has done a lot for the Chinese community,” he said.

One New York man who said he enthusiastically donated $2,500 to Clinton doesn’t appear to be eligible to do so under federal election law. He said he came to the United States from China about two years ago and didn’t have a green card

Many, on the other hand, said they gave for reasons having more to do with the Chinese community than with Clinton. He Duan Zheng, who gave $1,000, said of the Fujianese community: “They informed us to go, so I went.

“Everybody was making a donation, so I did too,” he said. “Otherwise I would lose face.”

Just imagine if this was a story about the presumptive Republican nominee for the Presidential campaign.

It might get even more media coverage than Larry Craig’s “wide stance.”

But since it is Mrs. Bill Clinton the story will die where it was born, at the Los Angeles Times.

Still, we should give the LAT their due. A newspaper is actually doing investigative reporting on a very important subject.


This article was posted by Steve on Friday, October 19th, 2007. Comments are currently closed.

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