Saturday, 01 September 2007


Ken Berwitz

Here, courtesy of the Associated Press, are today's latest developments in the Norman Hsu/Democratic party scandal.  The one that involves both major 2008 contenders - Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama - as well as the 2004 nominee - John Kerry.

If you watch network news, you know that this is a scandal  the networks are burying as fast as they can.  Why would they do that? 

You're kidding, right?  Why do you THINK they would do that? 

Here is the story:.

Top Dem fundraiser turns himself in

By PAUL ELIAS, Associated Press WriterFri Aug 31, 2:51 PM ET

A top Democratic fundraiser whose criminal past has roiled the campaigns of top presidential candidates turned himself in Friday in California, where he had been a fugitive for more than 15 years.

Judge H. James Ellis ordered Norman Hsu handcuffed and jailed on $2 million bail. The judge declined Hsu's request to immediately reduce the bail by half, instead scheduling a Sept. 5 hearing to consider the request.

Hsu pleaded no contest in 1991 to a felony count of grand theft, admitting he'd defrauded investors of $1 million in a bogus investment scam. He was facing up to three years in prison when he skipped town before his 1992 sentencing date, Deputy Attorney General Ronald Smetana said outside court.

Hsu also resigned from the board of trustees of The New School and from the board of governors of The New School's Eugene Lang College. The college received a federal appropriation secured by Clinton last year, but a spokesman for the school said Hsu was not involved in seeking money for the school.

Friday's 10-minute hearing in San Mateo County Superior Court was the culmination of a stunningly quick fall from grace for a disgraced California businessman who remade himself in New York apparel executive and benefactor of Democratic causes and candidates, including presidential contenders Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton, whose campaign designated Hsu a "HillRaiser" a title given to top donors.

Federal Election Commission records show Hsu donated $260,000 to Democratic Party groups and federal candidates since 2004. Though a top fundraiser for Clinton, he also donated to Obama's Senate campaign in 2004 and to Obama's political action committee.

After reports surfaced this week of his fugitive status, politicians at all levels scrambled to distance themselves.

Obama's campaign said Thursday it would give to charity the $2,000 Hsu contributed to his 2004 Senate campaign and the $5,000 Hsu gave to his political action committee, Hopefund.

Hsu's $43,700 in donations to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and $2,500 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee also will go to charity, both groups announced.

Clinton joined the other candidates, returning $23,000 in contributions that Hsu made to her presidential and senatorial campaigns and to her political action committee, HillPac. But his close association with her campaign put Clinton on the defensive just as she prepared to ramp up for an intense post-Labor Day campaign stretch.

California officials who said they would get rid of donations from Hsu include Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer and House members Mike Honda and Doris Matsui.

Earlier this week, Hsu said he thought the 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," Hsu said in a prepared statement.

According to Smetana, Hsu told investors he had a contract to buy and sell latex gloves, but he never purchased the gloves and had no contract to sell them.

After he failed to show up for sentencing, investigators believed Hsu had fled to his native Hong Kong, Smetana said.

Smetana said he has agreed to let Hsu post $1 million cash bail, He also said prosecutors are likely to again argue for a prison time when Hsu finally keeps his sentencing date with the judge.

"He stole $1 million," Smetana said.

Hsu's lawyer and publicist declined say whether he would immediately post bail. .

Do you remember a man named Jack Abramoff?  He gave many, many contributions to both Republicans and Democrats, with an appreciable majority (something like 2/3) to Republicans.  He was front page news for weeks, and somehow the fact that Democrats, such as Harry Reid ($60,000 through a third party) and others were spared the scrutiny. 

Why do you suppose?

Well, think about that when you think about the Norman Hsu scandal, in which they have - so far - uncovered over $600,000 in contributions to the most high-profile Democrats in the country, without even one cent going to any Republican.  This story is being given two-day-and-out status by the networks.

Why do you suppose?

Sometimes the double standard is literally breathtaking.

gregmeran the partisan "mainstream media" just can't help themselves. any thinking person is not surprised! like any compulsive person it's just the normal modis operandi for that bunch who think diversity in the newsroom is a group of people that are ethnically different with identical thought patterns .to that crowd diversity is only skin deep which flies in the face liberal-socialist dogma,well I guess when you are ethics challenged the ends allways justifies the means (09/05/07)


Ken Berwitz

No political message here at all.  My wife and I just got back from the beach (Spring Lake Heights, New Jersey, to be exact) and the weather was so beautiful I thought I would mention it here.

The next blog goes right back to politics. But it is so glorious outside that I didn't want it to go unnoticed.


Ken Berwitz

A large portion of the media seem perfectly happy to let Hillary Clinton's involvement in the Norman Hsu campaiign contribution scandal die.

Well I don't.  I have this attitude about BOTH sides being held to account.

For this reason, I am posting a terrific column on the Hsu/Clinton connection, written for  by Richard H. Collins.  I think you'll find it extremely worthwhile reading.  Here is Mr. Collins' piece (bold print is mine):.

Hsu What?
By Richard H. Collins
Friday, August 31, 2007

Hillary Clinton is once again facing questions about inappropriate campaign contributions.  Anyone with knowledge of recent history is not shocked.  The Clintons have a long history of questionable campaign fundraising.

Many, however, will once again try to paint this history as old news and as irrelevant to the current campaign.  But this pattern of behavior calls into question both her judgment and ethics and is directly relevant to her campaign for president.

Carl Bernsteins recent sympathetic Hillary biography gives some insight into how this pattern developed.  According to Bernstein, when her future husband Bill was running for Congress in 1974 he was approached by a lawyer representing Arkansas dairy interests and offered a contribution that would are so it was believed - insure his victory in an important county and in turn signal his support for the dairy industry if elected.

In a very close race his advisors argued for taking the contribution, but Hillary was adamantly opposed to taking the money.  Bill sided with Hillary and went on to lose by just 2 percentage points.  Bernstein then concludes:

Subsequently, she would be far less committed to the high road and much more concerned with results . . .By the time her husbands reelection as president (and a decade after that, her own preparations for running for president), she would preside over a vast fund-raising apparatus and bowed to no one in her willingness to stretch the rules of campaign finance.

The recent revelations about prominent Democratic fundraiser Norman Hsu has caused the issue to resurface. 

Mr. Hsu first came to light after the Wall Street Journal ran a story noting how he was suspiciously bundling large sums of money from sources with apparently modest income.  The Clinton campaign defended Mr. Hsu and the donations until it was revealed that he was wanted for an outstanding warrant after being accused of defrauding millions of dollars from investors in a business scheme.  Having pled guilty to grand theft, Mr. Hsu never showed up in court as he had promised.

The Clinton campaign is now promising to give the $23,000 they have received from Hsu to charity but plan on keeping the money he bundled from other sources.  Meanwhile, this seems like dj vu all over again for those with any familiarity with Clinton history.

In the mid to late 1990s the Clinton administration was rocked by scandal amid accusations of improper contributions and alleged links between the contributors and the Chinese government.  Democratic fundraisers like Charlie Trie, Johnny Chung, John Huang, and James Riady illegally funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars into the Democratic campaign - and the Clinton legal defense fund - coffers in exchange for access to the White House.  In many instances the First Lady was directly involved and contributions were even accepted in her office. 

Her initial Senate campaign was also involved in campaign finance improprieties.  Hollywood mogul Peter F. Paul organized lavish fundraisers in partnership with the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee and the New York Democratic Party.  The resulting New York Senate 2000 Committee, whose chief beneficiary was Clinton, underreported the in-kind contributions from these events by over $700,000 according the FEC.

Other questionable Hillary campaign donations in recent memory:

- She accepted $63,000 from former IMClone CEO Sam Waksal who was indicted for insider trading, bank fraud and obstruction of justice.

- Prominent Clinton fundraiser and supporter Vinod Gupta has been accused of helping to bilk senior citizens out of millions of dollars and is the a target of a shareholder lawsuit accusing him of using company funds for personal and political use.  He has also provided the Clintons with corporate jet usage worth over $900,000.

- She accepted at least $8,000 from a Saipan based sweatshop owner Willie Tan and his family.  Tan was involved with disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoffs efforts to win sweetheart trade deals.

It is unlikely that this latest campaign finance controversy is going to derail Hillarys campaign for the Democratic nomination.  The media seems to have little interest in pursuing these often complex and litigious cases.

But it is worth remembering that Hillarys rhetoric about transparency and honesty doesnt match up to her actions.  Hillary decided a long time ago to do whatever it takes to get elected.  And if it that means stretching campaign finance laws to the breaking point, so be it. .

If this were a Republican?  The networks, the morning shows, etc. would be doing nonstop reporting and nonstop features: 

-The way they've done about Senator Larry Craig this week; 

-The way they did about Jack Abramoff, until some of his juicier contributions to Democrats surfaced;

-The way they did about Enron until some of their juicier contributions to Democrats surfaced.

In an earlier blog I noted that the double standard in reporting Republican versus Democrat scandals is literally breathtaking. 

Media's (in)attention to the Hillary connection to Norman Hsu is a classic example.


Ken Berwitz

While we're on the subject of blatant double standards:

I don't have time right now, heading for the gym.  But later today or tomorrow I am going to blog about the difference in press coverage between Larry Craig, the Idaho senator who apparently will resign today over his apparent covert gay sexual activities, and Jim McGreevey of New Jersey, who resigned as Governor because of his covert gay sexual activities.

Get ready.  Its an interesting comparison.


Ken Berwitz

Two days ago I promised to blog about Tom DeLay's reaming of Matt Lauer on the Today show.  Here it is.

As you will see, there was no shouting match and no name-calling.  The only thing that happened was Tom DeLay pointing out the blatant, ongoing double standard that exists between Democrat and Republican standards.  Complete with specific examples.  And Lauer thrashed around and whined complaints about DeLay's points, but could not rebut them.

Tom DeLay knows whereof he speaks.  He was one of the Republican house members that media hated with a passion (i,.e. he was an effective conservative Republican), so there were no rules.  Only open season on him. 

Do you know of any charge of any kind that Tom DeLay has been convicted of - even after he resigned the house because the witchhunt made it impossible for him to function?  The answer must be no, because there isn't any.

An honest media would be going after ronnie earle, the rogue prosecutor in Texas who brought all those charges and kept doing so even after one and then a second grand jury determined there were no actionable offenses. 

A reasonable prosecutor would have stopped after the first - or certainly the second - grand jury rejection.  But earle, who publicly stated he was going after DeLay (i.e. vendetta) kept looking for, and finally found a grand jury that said "ok, we'll charge him with a couple of things". 

But there are no convictions.  Why?  Because there was nothing there - which is why earle had to cobble together three grand juries until he found one which would play ball with him.

An honest media would have characterized this as the vendetta-inspired witchhunt it was.  They would have looked into earle's past behavior - this is not by any means the first time he's pulled something like this and attacked earle for his history of acting this way. 

If it were, say, Hillary Clinton being set upon you can bet the Matt Lauers of the world would have done a dozen features on the Today show about it, with countless questions about the prosecutor's honesty and motivations.

Anyway, I'm getting off the soapbox now, I promise.  Here is the verbatim transcript of the Tom DeLay's interview with Lauer:.

   MATT LAUER: By all accounts, these are some tough times for the Republican party. Last fall, Democrats took control of both houses of Congress, largely because of opposition to the war in Iraq. In 2006, the Republican party was also hit with distracting scandals involving Congressman Mark Foley's inappropriate e-mails to male congressional pages, and lobbyist Jack Abramoff's corruption case, that brought down several prominent Republican Congressmen. This year, the phone number of Republican senator David Vitter turned up in the records of a Washington, DC escort service, and now, recent polls show voters prefer a Democrat over a Republican by 51 to 27%, and at least one poll found the most popular choice among Republican presidential candidates is "none of the above." The question now: can any of the damage be reversed? Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay served in Congress for 22 years and knows personally how scandals can impact a party. He's also the author of a new book called No Retreat, No Surrender: One American's Fight. Tom DeLay, Congressman, good morning.
     TOM DELAY: Good morning, Matt.
     LAUER: So, I went through a litany there, and maybe I should start by stepping back. We've got two members out of 49 Republican Senators in office right now embroiled in controversy. So, do we have a party embroiled in scandal or do we have two bad apples?
     DELAY: Well, I hate to say this Matt, but you just showed the problem, the double-standard, and you just participated in it. You listed a whole lot of scandals that involve the Republicans, but you didn't mention one Democrat.
     LAUER: But you didn't hear me. I also just said do we only have two bad apples or is there a case of an entire party embroiled in scandal?
     DELAY: I think in your premise, if you had listed all the Democrats that are having problems right now, it would have been different. You see the Democrats re-elect the people with their problems. Republicans kick them out. If you look at what's going on, it's how you handle it as a party and as a political group. You have right now, Alan Mollohan, a Congressman from West Virginia, who is being investigated by the FBI, and the Democrats have kept him on as chairman of the committee that has oversight of the budget of the FBI. You have William Jefferson-
     LAUER: So, you're saying it's a positive thing. Is it a positive thing that the Republicans do this, they weed out immediately?
     DELAY: You don't want me to finish it? Because you don't want me to-
     LAUER: No, no go ahead.
     DELAY: Well, you have William Jefferson caught with $90,000 of marked bills in a freezer. And they did put him of the Ways and Means Committee, but they put him on a highly-sensitive Homeland Security Committee. You have Barney Frank, who was caught with a homosexual prostitute who was re-elected over and over again. Gerry Studds who was caught in a bathroom with an under-aged page and he was re-elected.
     LAUER: So, why are people like McCain and Norm Coleman and Mitt Romney immediately distancing themselves from Larry Craig? And let me ask you this -- as someone who has seen personal scandal yourself, and knows what it can do -- when you look back in hindsight, knowing how this of thing plays out in the news cycle -- if you could talk to Larry Craig right now, what advice would you give him?
     DELAY: Well, first of all, it's really unfortunate that people rush to judgment like they have. I'm not defending Larry Craig. I have great sympathy for what his wife and his family are going through right now. But the decisions that Larry Craig need to make are up to Larry Craig and his constituents in Idaho. But it takes us off our message, and I grant you that. It takes us off the fact that we are winning in the war in Iraq; that the President is going to stop the Democrats from raising taxes and increasing spending; that we desperately need border security in this country. We need to be talking about those kind of things, rather than this.
     LAUER: And we've heard some very public statements, as I just mentioned, from John McCain and Norm Coleman and Congressman Hoekstra there a second ago. If Larry Craig decides to -- as your book title, No Retreat, No Surrender -- stay and fight, ok. What other ways, more subtle ways, do members of his own party -- and from your own experience -- start to deliver the message that it's not going to work?
     DELAY: Well, I know Larry Craig, and I think he will make the right decision, that benefits him and his family, and his constituents in Idaho. But if you're not guilty of something, you should fight-
     LAUER: But he pled guilty?
     DELAY: But then he said he made the wrong decision in doing that. I'm not going to get into the specifics of what he has done. He didn't handle it very well. That's obvious.
     LAUER: Given the situation in Washington right now, Congressman, I mean, can Larry Craig pull a Trent Lott? Can he duck under the radar for a while, and give up a powerful position, stay out of the spotlight for a while, and come back, make a comeback?
     DELAY: I have no idea, Matt. You asked me to come on to talk about the GOP and politics, not about this man's personal life. Whatever decision he makes, I think it will be the right decision. The point here, though, is the Republicans handle it. They look at it, and when the evidence is right on that someone is guilty, they do something about it. On the other hand, the Democrats don't. And the media, the double-standard in the media is amazing. The feeding frenzy, the sharks in the water that's going on right now because of a Republican. Where is the frenzy on Alan Mollohan from West Virginia or William Jefferson from Louisiana?
     LAUER: I think you mentioned William Jefferson. There was an awful lot of coverage of William Jefferson when that story broke, Congressman.
     DELAY: Yeah, for just a couple of days and then we went on. In the case of a Republican, believe me, I've experienced this, it's day in and day out in the media, and they write this story over and over and over again. We all know the double-standard in the media. It's amazing.
     LAUER: Well, I'm not going to let it, you know, end with that assumption, Congressman, because I clearly don't agree with it, but why don't we just say-
     DELAY: You exhibited it, Matt!
     LAUER: But you know what, Congressman? I think it's unfair. Because I listed a list of problems and then immediately-
     DELAY: All Republicans.
     LAUER: Well, we're talking about the Republican party. You just said, I invited you on to talk about the GOP.
     DELAY: Because you don't want to talk about the Democrats.
     LAUER: So, that's exactly what I started with-
     DELAY: Because you don't want to talk about the Democrats.
     LAUER: And I also, Congressman, started and then said, 'Is this a misperception, that there is a party embroiled in scandal, when we may just have two bad apples?' That's exactly how I started my first question.
     DELAY: No, you started the first question by listing a bunch of Republicans and didn't mention one Democrat.
     LAUER: Because we're talking-
     DELAY: About the situation that's going on in Washington today, and including both Democrats and Republicans. There are scandals that need to be addressed. Republicans address them, Democrats re-elect them.
     LAUER: Alright Congressman, I'll let you have the last word. It's good to have you on.
     DELAY: Thank you. Thank you.

What a line that was by DeLay, right at the end: 

"There are scandals that need to be addressed.  Republicans address them, Democrats re-elect them". 

If the Republican party has an ounce of smarts, that will be repeated from now through the 2008 election.  With names like Clinton, and Jefferson, and Mollohan, and Frank, and Murtha, etc. etc. etc. attached to them.  

If the media won't go after Democratic scandals, then the Republican party should make the people embroiled in them embarrassments.  Embarrassments that are reinforced every day they stay in office and every time they show themselves at a campaign stop.

God knows, there are plenty of scandalized, and re-elected, Democrats to choose from.


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