Hillary Clinton has decided to return some of the money donated to her campaign through Norman Hsu after learning of his outstanding warrant for fraud and failure to appear. She will direct $23,000 to charity, less than half of the amount identified by the Los Angeles Times that came from the Paw family, whose connections to Hsu led to his exposure as a convicted con man:
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign said yesterday that it would give to charity $23,000 it had received from a prominent Democratic donor, and review thousands of dollars more that he had raised, after learning that the authorities in California had a warrant for his arrest stemming from a 1991 fraud case. ...
On his own, Mr. Hsu wrote checks totaling $255,970 to a variety of Democratic candidates and committees since 2004. Even though he was a bundler for Mrs. Clinton, his largess was spread across the Democratic Party and included $5,000 to the political action committee of Senator Barack Obama, Democrat of Illinois.
Last month, Mr. Hsu was among the honored guests at a fund-raiser for Representative Patrick J. Kennedy, Democrat of Rhode Island, given by Stephen A. Schwarzman of the Blackstone Group at the New York Yacht Club.
Al Franken, a Democratic Senate candidate in Minnesota, said he would divest his campaign of Mr. Hsu’s donations, as did Representatives Michael M. Honda and Doris O. Matsui of California and Representative Joe Sestak of Pennsylvania, all Democrats.
The New York Times neglects to mention the actual amounts that Hsu redirected to Hillary's coffers. The Paw family alone gave $55,000 over the last three years to Hillary's campaigns, bundled through Hsu. The Lee family in New York donated over $37,000 to Hillary through Hsu as well, for a total just shy of six figues. The charitable donations to which Hillary has committed amounts to 25% of Hsu's bundled donations from just the two families reported by the LAT.
Why not part with all of it? She's been raising at least 1000 times the amount of her divestment in each of the last two quarters. While she will certainly need the money, clearing her name should take a higher priority. Quarter-measures like this make her look as though she's only interested in token actions meant to take the heat off for just long enough to keep as much Hsu money as she can.
Beyond Hillary's peculiar pecunary posturing, the path of Norman Hsu seems rather amusing. The man convicted of fraud and wanted for fleeing his prison sentence did not seem unduly handicapped by either in his career. The famous liberal New School made him a trustee and became a trustee at its Eugene Lang College. That came after he started donating heavily to the Democratic Party in his new incarnation, and the failed businessman and convicted fraudster somehow generated large amounts of cash for these efforts, with "connections" (as the New York Times puts it) to clothing related businesses. None of these organizations ever did as much as a cursory check on the Hong Kong native.
Where did Hsu get all this money? That remains to be seen, and it may be the most interesting question yet. So far, his entire history has been one failed enterprise after another -- and yet as a fugitive on the run, he managed to manipulate millions of dollars for the Democrats. That's a pretty neat trick.
UPDATE: Added link to the Los Angeles Times story with the donation amounts that the New York Times failed to report. Here are the excerpts:
The Paws -- seven adults, most of whom live together in a small house near San Francisco International Airport -- apparently had never donated to national candidates until 2004. Over a three-year period, they gave $213,000, including $55,000 to Clinton and $14,000 to candidates for state-level offices in New York. ...
Danny Lee, a manager at the packaging firm, has given $95,000 to federal Democratic campaigns -- $19,500 of which went to Clinton. Yu Fen Huang, who shares a New York house with Lee, has given $52,200 to Democrats, $8,800 to Clinton. Soe Lee has contributed $54,000 to Democrats, $8,800 to Clinton.
The amounts add up to $92,100 going directly to Clinton. She's giving up $23,000.