Wash. Times suggested without evidence that Hsu illegally funneled donations to Dems

››› ››› SARAH PAVLUS

The Washington Times claimed that Norman Hsu "donated more than $1 million to senior Democrats, including the presidential campaigns of Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and Barack Obama of Illinois." The article later claimed, providing no evidence, that "[s]ome of Mr. Hsu's donations were made through several people" -- which would presumably be a violation of federal law. In fact, Hsu himself has reportedly donated $255,000 to federal candidates since 2003," and has acted as a "bundler," soliciting friends and associates to make contributions to certain candidates with their own money, which, when added to Hsu's own donations, total more than $1 million. Bundling itself is not illegal, but as The New York Times noted, it is "illegal for a bundler to reimburse a contributor."

A September 4 Washington Times article by reporter Bill Gertz claimed: "Apparel executive Norman Hsu, who turned himself in last week to authorities in California to face fraud charges, donated more than $1 million to senior Democrats, including the presidential campaigns of Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and Barack Obama of Illinois." The article later claimed, providing no evidence, that "[s]ome of Mr. Hsu's donations were made through several people" -- which would presumably be a violation of federal law -- and added that "[i]n one case" Hsu "worked with a family in Daly City, Calif.," a reference to the Paw family, whose donations were first highlighted by The Wall Street Journal on August 28.

In fact, Hsu himself has "donated $255,000 to federal candidates since 2003," according to the August 31 edition of the Los Angeles Times. Hsu has also acted as a "bundler," soliciting friends and associates to make contributions to certain candidates with their own money. According to the September 1 edition of the Los Angeles Times, Hsu himself and through bundling, "generated more than $1 million for Democratic politicians." While bundling itself is not illegal -- an August 31 New York Times article noted that it was "[p]ioneered in an organized way by George W. Bush in 2000" -- it is, as The New York Times also noted, "illegal for a bundler to reimburse a contributor."

While The Washington Times claimed that "[s]ome of Mr. Hsu's donations were made through several people" and "[i]n one case" Hsu "worked with a family in Daly City, Calif.[the Paw family]," The Wall Street Journal, which in an August 28 article first suggested that Hsu may have funneled illegal campaign contributions to Clinton by reimbursing members of the Paw family, did not provide any direct evidence that Hsu had done so.

Additionally, The Washington Times falsely claimed: "The [Paw] family was headed by William Paw, a mail carrier who earned a relatively small salary, but who since 2004 gave more than $200,000 in donations, including $55,000 to Mrs. Clinton." In fact, as the August 29 edition of the Los Angeles Times reported, seven adult members of the Paw family, combined, gave the amount that The Washington Times attributed solely to William Paw. According to the Los Angeles Times, "Over a three-year period, they [seven members of the Paw family] gave $213,000, including $55,000 to Clinton and $14,000 to candidates for state-level offices in New York." According to Federal Election Commission's (FEC) searchable donor database, William Paw himself donated a total of $11,800 to Democratic campaigns. Furthermore, The Washington Times' description of the Paw family -- only that "[t]he family was headed by William Paw, a mail carrier who earned a relatively small salary, but who since 2004 gave more than $200,000 in donations, including $55,000 to Mrs. Clinton" -- made no mention of other family members and their donations. As Media Matters has previously noted, The Wall Street Journal originally described the Paw family the following way: "Records show they own a gift shop and live in a 1,280-square-foot house that they recently refinanced for $270,000. William Paw, the 64-year-old head of the household, is a mail carrier with the U.S. Postal Service who earns about $49,000 a year, according to a union representative. Alice Paw, also 64, is a homemaker. The couple's grown children have jobs ranging from account manager at a software company to 'attendance liaison' at a local public high school. One is listed on campaign records as an executive at a mutual fund." Also, as Media Matters documented, $100,550 in political contributions came from Winkle Paw, an adult son. An August 29 Los Angeles Times article reported that Barcella, Hsu's lawyer, said Winkle Paw "was in business with Hsu."

No candidate or committee that received money from Hsu has been charged with any wrongdoing. Upon learning that Hsu was a fugitive, Clinton, Obama, and several other campaigns that received money from him said they would donate it to charity. Hsu's donations to Obama, according to the FEC's donor database, were to Obama's Senate campaign and his leadership political action committee (PAC), Hopefund Inc., not, as The Washington Times claimed, to his presidential campaign.

From the September 4 article in The Washington Times:

Questionable donations to Democratic officials and presidential candidates from a Chinese-American businessman highlight past concerns over Chinese political influence-buying operations.

Apparel executive Norman Hsu, who turned himself in last week to authorities in California to face fraud charges, donated more than $1 million to senior Democrats, including the presidential campaigns of Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and Barack Obama of Illinois.

Mr. Hsu, a native of Hong Kong, has not been linked to any foreign government, and the fraud charges are unrelated to campaign contributions. It is not known whether federal investigators are looking into his donations, most of which were made since 2003.

Mrs. Clinton, who gave $23,000 of Mr. Hsu's money to charity, said last week that the case does not appear similar to the 1996 scandal involving a covert effort by China's government to funnel money to President Clinton's re-election campaign.

[...]

Some of Mr. Hsu's donations were made through several people, raising suspicions that the money came from foreign or other hidden sources.

In one case, Mr. Hsu, a naturalized U.S. citizen who according to his attorney lived in Hong Kong from 1992 to 1996, worked with a family in Daly City, Calif. The family was headed by William Paw, a mail carrier who earned a relatively small salary, but who since 2004 gave more than $200,000 in donations, including $55,000 to Mrs. Clinton.

Posted In
Elections, Government, Ethics
Network/Outlet
The Washington Times
Stories/Interests
2008 Elections
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