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Clinton's Chinatown Donors Scrutinized

An advocacy group for Asian Americans has lashed out at recent media scrutiny of several hundred thousand dollars in contributions that Hillary Clinton raised in New York's Chinatown.

Asian & Pacific Islander American Vote, a non-partisan civic engagement organization, issued a press release last night calling the "undue scrutiny on a specific ethnic subgroup" an example of "negligent journalism."

The release came in the days after the Los Angeles Times and, subsequently, the New York Post, reported on irregularities in the contributions Clinton received from scores of donors in Chinatown. Several identifying themselves as "cooker" or "dishwasher" had donated $1,000 to the Clinton campaign. Other donors came from addresses where, upon closer inspection, they could not be located.

Prior to the published reports, the Clinton campaign had returned $7,000 in contributions from Chinatown donors when the campaign was unable to verify the identities of the donors. When the L.A. Times story broke, the campaign questioned whether reporters were drawing on the donors' ethnic backgrounds when examining the contributions.

"Asian-Americans in Chinatown and Flushing have the same right to contribute as every other American," Howard Wolfson, a campaign spokesman, told several newspapers.

The reaction from the Washington-based Asian American advocacy group was similar. Members of the group took issue with a particular aspect of the donations that reporters drew attention to -- namely, that many of the immigrant donors were giving Clinton large sums without having been registered to vote.

Vida Benavides, the group's chair, "cautioned the media for suggesting that legal permanent residents who donate to campaigns should be suspect because they have not yet earned their right to vote," calling that "misleading and is irresponsible reporting," according to the press release.

The Chinatown stories mark the second time this year that the Clinton campaign has been forced to answer questions about vetting of contributions. The other incident also involved an Asian American immigrant, Norman Hsu. Hsu had become one of the Clinton campaign's most prodigious fundraisers. After discovering that Hsu was a fugitive from justice, the Clinton campaign returned more than $800,000 in contributions he had raised, including a considerable amount from ethnic Chinese donors.

The unwanted attention has clearly been weighing on members of the Asian American advocacy group.

Improper activities warrant attention, the statement from the group said. Yet, "in the past, Asian Americans have been criticized for not participating enough in the political process," said Noelani Kalipi, an APIAVote board member. "It is ironic, we are being attacked for doing exactly what citizens are supposed to do: exercise their rights and fulfill their responsibilities."

--Matthew Mosk

By Washington Post editors  |  October 23, 2007; 10:26 AM ET
 
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Comments

How in the world does reporting on suspicious $1000 "contributions" by nonvoting dishwashers to HRC become an attack on Asians? It's the Hillary campaign that is "dirty" here, the dishwashers probably do not even know they were being used.

Posted by: Childrex | October 24, 2007 5:55 PM | Report abuse

We are talking about campaigns who's totals don't even make up %0.1 of whats being collected in the overall campaign.

Sure it's easy to pick on disenfranchised groups because they have no recourse or understanding of how our arcane political system works.

I also blame lazy news reporters and bloggers for not digging up real issues in our campaign finance system.

Just because you have a blog doesn't mean you deserve one.

I leave it up to the public figure this issue out. In about 2 months we'll have moved onto another story of more importance.

Posted by: zorushi | October 24, 2007 1:08 PM | Report abuse

Ah, the memories...

INTRO: WITH A STATE VISIT TO CHINA ONLY ABOUT A MONTH AWAY,
PRESIDENT CLINTON IS FACING A GROWING CONTROVERSY OVER PART OF
HIS POLICY TOWARD CHINA, AND ACCUSATIONS THAT SOME OF IT MAY HAVE
BEEN INFLUENCED BY A CHINESE MILITARY CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTION TO
HIS RE-ELECTION.

THURSDAY, IN WHAT THE "NEW YORK TIMES" CALLED A -- BIPARTISAN
STAMPEDE ON A POLITICALLY EXPLOSIVE ISSUE -- THE HOUSE OF
REPRESENTATIVES VOTED OVERWHELMINGLY TO SUSPEND THE EXPORT OF
AMERICAN-MADE SATELLITES AND MISSILE TECHNOLOGY TO CHINA. IT IS
UNCLEAR WHETHER THE SENATE WILL FOLLOW SUIT.

THE CONTROVERSY HAS ADDED TO THE TROUBLES THE PRESIDENT FACES IN
DEALING WITH THE URGENT ISSUES OF NEW LEADERSHIP IN INDONESIA,
AND FALLOUT FROM INDIA'S FIVE RECENT NUCLEAR EXPLOSIONS.

NEVER SHY, THE PRESS IS BUSY EXPRESSING ITS OWN OPINIONS AS WELL,
ABOUT THE CHINESE ISSUE, AND WE CALL ON _________________ NOW
FOR A SAMPLING IN TODAY'S U-S OPINION ROUNDUP.

TEXT: THERE HAD BEEN RUMORS OF ILLEGAL CHINESE GOVERNMENT
CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE CLINTON-GORE RE-ELECTION CAMPAIGN FOR
MONTHS, IF NOT LONGER, BUT NO PROOF. AT THE BEGINNING OF LAST
YEAR'S SENATE HEARINGS INTO CAMPAIGN FINANCE WRONG-DOING,
CHAIRMAN FRED THOMPSON CLAIMED THERE WAS A CHINESE CONNECTION,
BUT THE HEARINGS NEVER PRODUCED SPECIFICS.

THEN LAST WEEK, "THE NEW YORK TIMES" REPORTED THAT FORMER
COMMERCE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL, AND KEY CLINTON FUND-RAISER, JOHNNY
CHUNG HAD ADMITTED TO JUSTICE DEPARTMENT INVESTIGATORS, PASSING
ON A 100-THOUSAND DOLLAR CONTRIBUTION FROM A CHINESE MILITARY
AEROSPACE AND INTELLIGENCE OFFICER TO THE CLINTON CAMPAIGN.

IT WAS POINTED OUT THAT OTHER, EVEN LARGER DONATIONS, CAME FROM
TWO AMERICAN FIRMS LAUNCHING PRIVATE, COMMUNICATIONS SATELLITES
ON CHINESE ROCKETS. THE PRESIDENT GAVE PERMISSION FOR THOSE
LAUNCHES. LATER, THE FIRMS, LORAL SPACE AND COMMUNICATIONS AND
HUGHES ELECTRONICS, GAVE THE CHINESE SECRET U-S INFORMATION TO
HELP WITH THEIR ROCKET GUIDANCE AFTER ONE OF THE CHINESE "LONG
MARCH" ROCKETS CRASHED, DESTROYING THE HUGHES SATELLITE ABOARD.
EARLIER THIS YEAR, PRESIDENT CLINTON APPROVED THAT TECHNOLOGY
TRANSFER ALSO, DESPITE A CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION BY THE JUSTICE
DEPARTMENT OF LORAL FOR MAKING IT.

WITHIN THE PAST FEW WEEKS IT WAS REVEALED THAT CHINA HAS
REPOSITIONED MORE THAN A DOZEN INTERCONTINENTAL BALLISTIC
MISSILES TOWARD U-S TARGETS, AND SOME CONGRESSMEN BELIEVE THE
COMMERCIAL SATELLITE GUIDANCE INFORMATION AIDED THE CHINESE IN
IMPROVING THEIR MILITARY MISSILES.

IN NEBRASKA, "THE OMAHA WORLD-HERALD" LINKS THIS LATEST PROBLEM
OF THE PRESIDENT TO NEWS THAT FORMER WHITE HOUSE INTERN MONICA
LEWINSKY HAS LOST A COURT APPEAL TO KEEP FROM TESTIFYING BEFORE A
GRAND JURY INVESTIGATING AN ALLEGED LOVE AFFAIR WITH THE
PRESIDENT.

VOICE: IT IS ESSENTIAL THAT INVESTIGATORS FIND HOW CHINESE
MONEY CAME TO BE SOLICITED, DONATED AND ACCEPTED BY THE
CLINTON RE-ELECTION MACHINE -- AND THAT THEY EXPLORE THE
RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THOSE PAYMENTS AND CHANGES IN
POLICY THAT BENEFITED THE CONTRIBUTORS. OF COURSE, IT
IS ALSO IMPORTANT TO RESOLVE THE QUESTIONS ABOUT WHETHER
THE PRESIDENT MISUSED THE POWER OF HIS OFFICE IN TRYING
TO COVER UP RELATIONSHIPS WITH [MS.] LEWINSKY, [PAULA]
JONES AND KATHLEEN WILLEY. AS THINGS STAND, AMERICA HAS
A WOUNDED PRESIDENT, UNABLE TO EXERT MORAL LEADERSHIP
AND, IT OFTEN SEEMS, UNABLE TO GIVE HIS FULL ATTENTION
TO DOMESTIC AND FOREIGN POLICY.

TEXT: "THE ATLANTA CONSTITUTION" MEANWHILE, SAYS THE PRESIDENT
BEARS FULL RESPONSIBILITY FOR WHATEVER HAPPENED, AS IT CALLS FOR
AN INVESTIGATION.

Posted by: US-Citizen | October 24, 2007 12:18 PM | Report abuse

The Washington Post finally covers this story and this is the best you can do? Oh my gosh!

You make it seem like this is a nonstory. What about all the people who have said they didn't make the donations? What about the person who said that she was repaid by someone else for making the donation? What about Mr. Guo?

This is no small matter and I'm wondering where your reporting is? Did you realize that using "straw men" to funnel donations into a campaign from other sources is illegal? What is the FEC's position?

If anyone is looking for real coverage on this, look up the LA Times and NY Post articles on this since they actually sent reporters out into the field to look for these alleged "donors", many of whom did not exist. CNN even did a decent report on this.

Posted by: msutt | October 24, 2007 10:06 AM | Report abuse

Ms. Choy, I can empathize with your situation but coming from Albanian immigrant family in the 1960s, 'those bad Asian people' was the furthest thought from my mind..didn't even make it there.

I got from it that some politicians and immigrant leaders, will sometimes do what it takes to exploit people like those dishwashers and garment workers who just want to be reunited with their families and create good lives without handouts..

Posted by: maelisa | October 24, 2007 9:09 AM | Report abuse

Just the facts! The accused are Asians. Whether or not they are Asian-Americans remains to be seen. A lot of us are waiting for the other Hsu to drop and, trust me it will. All cash, all the time. Any questions, just send it back. Deju vu all over again!

Posted by: NoMugwump | October 24, 2007 8:26 AM | Report abuse

There are many side stories that have been overlooked with targeted Asian donors.

2008 Campaigns Look Abroad for Funds -- 09/13/2007
http://www.cnsnews.com/ViewPrint.asp?Page=/Politics/archive/200709/POL20070913b.html

This was city Council Member John Liu's responds to the silly accusations:
http://www.myfoxny.com/myfox/pages/News/Detail?contentId=4688851&version=1&locale=EN-US&layoutCode=VSTY&pageId=3.2.1

Posted by: wooa | October 24, 2007 3:16 AM | Report abuse

The issue is not Asian people. It is the failure of the broader msm to vet Hillary to begin with.
She is a known and that is their reason. But, Hillary has only gained her 'career' through nepotism. She is a serious candidate and in first place because of nepotism.
The press as a whole has spent their time this past year doing daily worshipping of Hillary however, what has she actually accomplished herself?
She has shown in the senate to hardly be there so much as any real legislation and her record shows someone who has serious judgment problems.
The last time the cheerled for someone it was another candidate burnishing nepotism but, hardly a record or success. And we are living with that little adventure.
Now they are again influencing an election by touting a candidate with serious ethical problems and lacking in judgment. her campaign donations show this woman's lack of ethics and judgment and yet the press wants this woman to lead our country.
I want a candidate with clear leadership ability, good judgment and has worked for where he or she is in life. Someone who is ethically clean.
I do not want nor does this country need or can take another round of a press induced election of a family connected candidate with a spotty and obviously problematic record.

Posted by: vwcat | October 23, 2007 8:35 PM | Report abuse

"Our release was meant to reiterate the need for unbiased reporting on allegations of political misconduct.

- Jeanette Moy, APIAVote Vice Chair"

Unfortunately, the Post decided the reporter most responsible for inciting your appeal should report on it, making it the hook for repeating the allegations, absent further developments. I believe the Post is telling you they don't give a crap about your concerns.

Posted by: zukermand | October 23, 2007 4:57 PM | Report abuse

To clarify: The issue that APIAVote takes issue with is not whether any of these donations are illicit. APIAVote does not condone any illegal participation in the American political system and those who do should be held accountable. Improper activities warrant attention.

It is our concern that recent media coverage has continuously mischaracterized the involvement of Asian Americans, as an entire community, in the electoral process. It is important that the media does not imply that all foreign born individuals in the US cannot make political donations. Immigrants who have permanent resident status have the right to exercise their right to participate in the political process by legally donating to campaigns.

Our release was meant to reiterate the need for unbiased reporting on allegations of political misconduct.

- Jeanette Moy, APIAVote Vice Chair

Posted by: jmoy | October 23, 2007 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Ok, I suggest that Wopo investigate Hispanic groups who have donated to Hildabeast, say in East LA where the Pachocos have maybe donated Millions from their gang funds or maybe Jewish groups in Upstate NY, or wait maybe Peter Paul, I understand he and BJ had somekind of arrangement for money for Hildabeast! We have so many Politicions in our pockets for donations I feel like I'm being groped!

Posted by: ron_moore1 | October 23, 2007 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Agree with above.

I would be very curious as to any existing relationship between HRC campaign and Asian and Pacific Islander Amercian Vote. Their criticism seems, apologies in advance for anyone offended, contrived.

Those exposes had little/nothing to do with race/culture. What is at issue is corruption. A dishwasher who is not registered to vote is not expected to contribute to a campaign because he/she is poor and un-involved in American politics in a very fundamental sense.

No one seriously wants to offend Asian or Pacific Islanders, either intentionally or by playing into damaging stereotypes. But this should not distract from critical issue, which is: HRC, what's the deal?

Posted by: robert.d.connors | October 23, 2007 12:34 PM | Report abuse

All this warrants is a blog post from you, WaPo? The Clintons have a history of fraudulent campaign donations and merely two MSM outlets are looking into it. This should be headline news in every newspaper.

Posted by: dani2914 | October 23, 2007 11:26 AM | Report abuse

I wonder if there is a worse choice of reporter to write this piece. Maybe Solomon, but no other.

Posted by: zukermand | October 23, 2007 10:55 AM | Report abuse

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