Hsu Causes Campaigns
To Weigh Procedures
The political and legal demise of major Democratic fundraiser Norman Hsu is casting attention beyond Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, which earlier this week made the decision to return all of the $850,000 Hsu raised this year, even as he was a fugitive from a 15-year-old criminal case in California. At least two of Clinton's rivals have also been dealing with questions about their fundraising but have stopped short of Clinton's dramatic remedy so far.
Shortly before Hsu's controversial efforts came to light last month, trial lawyer Geoffrey Feiger, one of the big bundlers for John Edwards' past presidential campaign, was indicted on federal charges he conspired to route more than $125,000 in illegal contributions to Edwards' 2004 bid . Feiger, a trial lawyer who became famous for representing Dr. Jack Kevorkian during his assisted suicide controversy, has pleaded not guilty.
Edwards' campaign said it knew nothing about the alleged scheme and cooperated with the Justice Department once the investigation began. But Edwards, who trails both Clinton and Barack Obama significantly in the Democratic money chase, has declined to refund the donations in question, choosing instead to wait for the outcome of Feiger's trial to avoid influencing jurors.
"From Day One, the campaign has taken their lead from and cooperated fully with the Department of Justice," spokesman Eric Schultz told The Washington Post in an email. "Once this prosecution concludes, if Geoffrey Feiger is found guilty, the campaign will donate all the money is question to charity."
In the meantime, Edwards' campaign is, like Clinton, instituting criminal background checks for its major bundlers.
Obama was also grazed by the Hsu controversy, acknowledging he had received $7,000 directly from Hsu for his Senate campaign and his political action committee, known as Hopefund. He immediately donated that money to charity when the questions surfaced about Hsu. Obama aides subsequently acknowledged to the Post that Hsu also hosted a fund-raiser for Obama's Hopefund in March 2005. Unlike Clinton, Obama isn't immediately refunding the money, estimated at at least $19,500, that Hsu is believed to raise for the PAC, but his campaign has sent letters to those donors asking them to certify they made the contributions with their own money.
Obama has also has tried to take the lead in bringing more transparency to fundraising, proposing legislation that would require congressional and presidential candidates to formally identify their bundlers. But that legislation has its limits. Obama's aides acknowledge his proposal would not extend to bundlers who raise money for those candidates' leadership PACs, such as his own Hopefund.
Posted by: annefrank | September 13, 2007 5:07 PM | Report abuse
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