You have to give Ed Rendell some credit. Even when his fellow Democrats have decided to cut and run, the Pennsylvania governor believes in staying the course. Are we talking about Iraq? No, we’re talking about money, and Rendell apparently never met a dollar he didn’t like:
A prominent Democratic fund-raiser wanted on a felony fraud charge in California has donated or steered tens of thousands of dollars to Pennsylvania politicians in recent years, moving some to now jettison the money.
But one of Norman Hsu’s biggest beneficiaries in the state, Gov. Rendell, said yesterday that he would keep the money – and stand by his friend – unless he learned more damaging information about the case.
“I want to hear him out; I don’t want to be one of the guys to pile on,” Rendell said. “Norman Hsu’s one of the best 10 people I’ve met. He raised money for me because he believes in all the things we’re doing and he never asked for a bloody thing – not a job, not a contract, not [even] to attend a wedding.”
It turns out that Ed Rendell has plenty of reasons for taking a wait-and-see attitude about Hsu — 37,866 of them. That’s how many dollars Norman Hsu put in Rendell’s coffers in 2005 and 2006. Pennsylvania doesn’t limit donations, which allowed Hsu to contribute directly to Rendell rather than go through all the hassle of filtering donations through other families.
If Rendell thinks that Hsu is one of the “best 10 people” he’s met, then Ed needs to get out more often. California authorities have already confirmed that Hsu fled a three-year stretch for fraud after hustling investors out of more than a million dollars in a latex-glove resale scam. The New York Times reported today that all of his business references lead to dead ends — fronts for some purpose not yet known. Hsu himself appears to have vanished. One has to wonder who the other nine are on Ed’s Top Ten list.
The longer Rendell holds onto the Hsu money, the longer the stench will attach itself to him. Pennsylvania slid a little to the left in the last election. If Rendell continues to defend Hsu, that may turn around in the upcoming presidential election.