WSJ omitted key information in article about Clinton donations from "unlikely address"

››› ››› SARAH PAVLUS

In an article on campaign donations to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton from "an unlikely address," The Wall Street Journal suggested that "wealthy New York businessman" and "top fundraiser[]" Norman Hsu may have funneled illegal campaign contributions to Clinton by reimbursing members of the Paw family for contributions made to Clinton under their names. However, the Journal gave no indication it actually tried to get financial information indicating "how the Paw family is able to afford such political largess."

The Wall Street Journal omitted key information from an August 28 article that suggested "wealthy New York businessman" and "top fundraiser[]" Norman Hsu may have funneled illegal campaign contributions to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) by reimbursing members of the Paw family for contributions made to Clinton under their names. The Journal reported: "Six members of the Paw family, each listing the house at 41 Shelbourne Ave. as their residence, have donated a combined $45,000 to the Democratic senator from New York since 2005, for her presidential campaign, her Senate re-election last year and her political action committee. In all, the six Paws have donated a total of $200,000 to Democratic candidates since 2005, election records show." The article, by Wall Street Journal reporter Brody Mullins, later claimed, "It isn't obvious how the Paw family is able to afford such political largess," and went on to describe the Paws' "one-story house in a working-class suburb of San Francisco," their ownership of a gift shop, and their occupations, which vary from "mail carrier with the U.S. Postal Service" to "an executive at a mutual fund."

However, Mullins gave no indication he actually tried to get financial information regarding "how the Paw family is able to afford such political largess." Indeed, Lawrence Barcella, a Washington attorney representing Mr. Hsu, said in an August 28 statement, posted on Talkleft.com, that he offered to provide it: "I told the reporter [presumably Mullins] and his editor that I had reviewed the Paw's [sic] financial records, which clearly demonstrated that they easily had the financial wherewithal to make any level of contributions. ... I asked the reporter, in the presence of his editor, if I got permission to let them see the Paws' financial information, which shows their resources, would they not run the story? His editor responded 3 times that they were running the story anyway." The August 28 article did not address the purported offer of the Paws' private financial information. Instead, the Journal simply reported:

Lawrence Barcella, a Washington attorney representing Mr. Hsu, said in a separate email: "You are barking up the wrong tree. There is no factual support for this story and if Mr. Hsu's name was Smith or Jones, I don't believe it would be a story." He didn't elaborate.

Further, the Journal article claimed that "[t]he Paws' political donations closely track donations made by Norman Hsu," and, as evidence of this, offered purported connections between the Paws' giving pattern and Hsu's. From the Journal:

No one in the Paw family had ever given a campaign contribution before the 2004 presidential election, according to campaign-finance reports. Then, in July 2004, five members of the family contributed a total of $3,600 to the presidential campaign of Sen. John Kerry, the Massachusetts Democrat. Five of the checks were dated July 27, 2004. About the same time, Mr. Hsu made his first donations to a political candidate, contributing the maximum amount allowed by law to Mr. Kerry in two separate checks, on July 21, 2004, and on Aug. 6.

From then on, the correlation of campaign donations between Mr. Hsu and the Paw family has continued. The first donations to Mrs. Clinton came Dec. 23, 2004, when Mr. Hsu and one Paw family member donated the then-maximum $4,000 to her Senate campaign in two $2,000 checks, campaign-finance records show. In March 2005, the individuals gave a total of $17,500 to Mrs. Clinton.

However, the article did not report that the Paw family -- who, as the Journal noted, "have donated a total of $200,000 to Democratic candidates since 2005," including $45,000 to Clinton -- made donations to candidates to whom Hsu did not. For example, according to the Federal Election Commission disclosure database, Marina, Vivian, and Winkle Paw donated to Tammy Duckworth's unsuccessful 2006 congressional campaign, while Hsu did not. And Dimple Paw donated to Sen. John Tester's (D-MT) 2006 Senate campaign, while Hsu did not.

Also, it was not until midway through that the Journal article noted: "In the wake of a 2002 law that set ... limits [on campaign donations], federal and state regulators and law-enforcement officials said they have seen a spike recently in the number of cases of individuals and companies illegally reimbursing others for campaign donations. Those cases don't necessarily implicate the candidates, who sometimes don't even appear to be aware of such payments executed on their behalf." The Journal did not go beyond this general statement that these types of cases don't "necessarily implicate ... candidates." At no point did Brody specifically note the absence of evidence implicating Clinton.

Network/Outlet
Wall Street Journal
Stories/Interests
Hillary Clinton, 2008 Elections
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