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Justice Dept Probing Hsu’s Dem Fundraising

From the Wall Street Journal:

Hsu Faces Probe Of Fund Raising For Democrats

Big Donor Surrenders On California Charge, Posts $2 Million Bail

By IANTHE JEANNE DUGAN, BRODY MULLINS and JIM CARLTON
September 1, 2007; Page A1

The U.S. Justice Department is investigating possible campaign-finance violations by top Democratic fundraiser Norman Hsu, according to people familiar with the probe. On Friday, Mr. Hsu surrendered to California officials on an unrelated grand-theft charge dating to the early 1990s.

Mr. Hsu, who, until earlier this week was one of the biggest fundraisers for Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Rodham Clinton, was booked at the San Mateo County jail, where he was handcuffed and later released on $2 million bail. Wearing a black suit and white shirt, Mr. Hsu rushed to a waiting black Chevy Suburban outside the jail lobby Friday afternoon without answering any questions from reporters…

While California state prosecutors were dealing with the business-fraud case, the Justice Department was ramping up a look at Mr. Hsu’s more recent political activities. People familiar with the new probe said Justice officials are investigating a pattern of donations by acquaintances of Mr. Hsu’s in California…

The Wall Street Journal created the campaign-contribution story, and the fact that the government is compelled to chase it is no surprise,” Lawrence Barcella, a lawyer for Mr. Hsu, said in an email response to questions…

Mr. Brosnahan said the $2 million bail “can also be used for restitution to any persons who might still be unpaid.”

Mr. Smetana said he figured Mr. Hsu had returned to Hong Kong. Indeed, in magazine articles in 1993 and 1994, Mr. Hsu was identified as managing director of Newton Enterprises Inc., a Hong Kong-based exporter.

In recent years, he moved to New York, and told acquaintances he was working in the fashion industry. While he did run apparel companies at various times, some of the firms listed as his employer on campaign-contribution records are hard to track.

Mr. Hsu has maintained a very low profile within New York’s apparel industry. Representatives of one of the country’s main import groups, the U.S. Association of Importers of Textiles and Apparel, said they had never heard of Mr. Hsu. Firms that track shipments to significant U.S. importers also found no record that companies listed by Mr. Hsu had imported goods into the U.S. over the past year.

And now, many acquaintances in New York say they aren’t sure what he did for a living.

“He was involved in the fashion business,” said Bob Kerrey, a former Nebraska senator who is president of the New School in Manhattan, where Mr. Hsu resigned as a trustee yesterday. “I know that he designs and sells clothing.”

Acquaintances describe Mr. Hsu as well dressed and known for wearing a Rolex. He was divorced in the early 1990s from Patricia Hsu, who works for the Alameda, Calif., probation department.

Ms. Hsu said she doesn’t want to discuss her ex-husband. “It was a long time ago,” she said.

Their son, Oliver Hsu, has been listed as a molecular biology student at the University of California at Davis and as a researcher at Stanford University. Oliver Hsu and his mother have each donated the maximum $4,600 apiece to Mrs. Clinton’s presidential campaign…

In 1990, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that a group of Chinatown gang leaders had been arrested for kidnapping Mr. Hsu. The article said the alleged kidnappers were stopped after speeding through a red light, and Mr. Hsu took the opportunity to tell police he was being kidnapped. The article said he owned a restaurant and clothing businesses throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.

Mr. Hsu’s reputation in New York was far different from the one he left behind in California. In 2004, he began circulating among Democratic donors at fundraisers, and became a huge “bundler” — somebody who collects myriad checks from networks of friends, family and business acquaintances for political campaigns.

“I like him a lot,” Mr. Kerrey said. “He’s one of these guys in politics who gives and doesn’t ask for anything.” …

Should Ms. Hsu, an obvious (and previous) flight risk have been allowed to post bail?

What’s to keep him from following the footsteps of his fundraising predecessor Charlie Trie, and beating it back to the People’s Republic Of China?

He was divorced in the early 1990s from Patricia Hsu, who works for the Alameda, Calif., probation department.

The California officials didn’t think to ask her about her ex-husband’s whereabouts?

Very fishy.

“The Wall Street Journal created the campaign-contribution story, and the fact that the government is compelled to chase it is no surprise,” Lawrence Barcella, a lawyer for Mr. Hsu, said in an email response to questions.

Ah, yes. The Vast Rightwing Conspiracy is behind all of this.

This article was posted by Steve on Saturday, September 1st, 2007. Comments are currently closed.

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