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."
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