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March 16, 2006
Hillary Benefactor Tied To Korean Slush-Fund Scandal

Hillary Clinton has attended fund-raisers for her Senate re-election campaign that were hosted by a South Korean businessman tied to a slush-fund scandal in Seoul, Meghan Clyne reports in today's New York Sun. The accusations involve the use of a cultural-exchange program aimed at improving relations with Pyongyang but actually operated as an illegal funding source for South Korean politicians:

The contributions in question come from a New York-based real estate investor, Hyung Young "Daniel" Lee. According to records on file with the Federal Election Commission, Mr. Lee, 44, donated $4,100 to Mrs. Clinton's 2006 Senate re-election campaign through Friends of Hillary in May 2005. His wife, Eva, donated $5,100 in four separate contributions between August 2004 and May 2005. FEC documents show that the Clinton campaign refunded Mrs. Lee $1,000; FEC regulations cap donations to a candidate at $4,200 for an individual contributor during an election cycle.

According to a fund-raising invitation obtained by The New York Sun, Mr. and Mrs. Lee also hosted a "Korean Americans for Hillary" fund-raiser at their home in Great Neck on May 22, 2005. One of the organizers of Lees' event and a Queens-based businessman, John Park, said earlier this week that "around 60 or 70 people" attended the $1,000-a-head fund-raiser, including Mrs. Clinton.

Lee is an American citizen but has a significant interest in the World Culture Open center, which is listed as a foreign not-for-profit corporation. WCO's founder, Hung Seok Hyun, had been an ambassador to the US briefly in 2005 until he resigned over his involvement in the slush-fund scandal. A government wiretap captured his accounting of how he helped set up a slush fund through WCO in 1997 to influence South Korean politicians. He also had to pay $3.2 million in tax-evasion fines in 1999. His case on the slush-fund scandal is still pending after an appearance in court last November.

The South Korea Times first raised the question about Lee's connections to Hong and the bribery scheme. Lee, for his part, claims that his ties to WCO are only those of a volunteer or "temporary advisor", and that his staff filled out paperwork incorrectly that shows otherwise. About Hong he says that he doesn't know him ... "that much". In the meantime, he is staging another Hillary fundraiser at a building he recently purchased in Flushing.

The Clintons seem to attract a strange breed of financial backing. In 1996 we had Johnny Chung; in 2000 she had Peter Paul. Now we have Daniel Lee and his connections to Korean electoral shenanigans. I don't think anything will stop New Yorkers from re-electing her to the Senate and maintaining the Clinton "magic", but the rest of the country should recognize that the magic consists solely of cheap and shopworn sleight of hand and showmanship.

ADDENDUM: Speaking of Peter Paul, what ever happened to the FBI investigation of the Clintons regarding Paul and his attempt to get consideration for a presidential pardon?

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at March 16, 2006 6:13 AM

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