For the second time in a week, The Washington Times asserted in an article that "[f]ugitive businessman Norman Hsu ... donated more than $1 million to senior Democrats" and that "some of his donations were made through several people." However, Hsu himself has donated only "$260,000 to Democratic Party groups and federal candidates since 2004," as the article itself later noted, and the Wall Street Journal article that first suggested Hsu had orchestrated illegal campaign contributions provided no evidence that he had actually done so.
A September 6 Washington Times article by reporter Jerry Seper asserted: "Fugitive businessman Norman Hsu ... donated more than $1 million to senior Democrats, including the presidential campaigns of Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton [NY] and Barack Obama [IL]." Citing no evidence, the article later claimed that "some of his donations were made through several people, raising suspicions that the money came from foreign or other hidden sources."
In fact, as the Times article itself later reported, Hsu has donated "$260,000 to Democratic Party groups and federal candidates since 2004" but has also acted as a "bundler," soliciting friends and associates to make contributions to certain candidates with their own money. According to a September 1 Los Angeles Times article, Hsu himself and through bundling has "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 "illegal for a bundler to reimburse a contributor," as The New York Times also noted.
Despite The Washington Times' claim that "[s]ome of his [Hsu's] donations were made through several people," the August 28 Wall Street Journal article that first suggested Hsu may have funneled illegal campaign contributions to Clinton provided no direct evidence that he had done so.
This is the second time in the past week that Washington Times reporters have asserted that Hsu "donated" over $1 million to Democrats and made donations through other people. As Media Matters for America documented, 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."
From the September 6 Washington Times article:
Fugitive businessman Norman Hsu, who donated more than $1 million to senior Democrats, including the presidential campaigns of Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama, failed to appear yesterday for a bail-reduction hearing in a California court.
Hsu's attorneys told San Mateo Superior Court Judge Robert Foiles they did not know the whereabouts of their client, who evaded capture for more than 15 years before his surrender to authorities last week.
"Mr. Hsu is not here, and we do not know where Mr. Hsu is," San Francisco defense lawyer James Brosnahan said outside court. Mr. Brosnahan said "there was some contact" with Hsu a few hours before the scheduled 9 a.m. court appearance, but he declined to say who talked to Hsu.
Federal Election Commission records show Hsu has donated $260,000 to Democratic Party groups and federal candidates since 2004. He donated $23,000 to Mrs. Clinton of New York, which her campaign has since given to charity. He also donated to Mr. Obama's senatorial campaign in 2004 and to his political action committee.
Mr. Obama, of Illinois, has said the $2,000 donation to his 2004 Senate campaign and the $5,000 he gave to his political action committee, known as Hopefund, will go to charity.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee said it would give to charity the $43,700 Hsu made in donations, and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said it would give to charity the money he donated to it.
Hsu told reporters last week he thought the 1991 criminal charges had been taken care of when he completed his bankruptcy proceedings in the early 1990s.
"I have not sought to evade any of my obligations and certainly not the law," he said in a prepared statement.
Hsu 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.
But some of his donations were made through several people, raising suspicions that the money came from foreign or other hidden sources.