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Advocacy Group Consulted With Clinton Campaign on Critique

When a non partisan advocacy group for Asian Americans released a statement decrying recent news reports about questionable contributions Sen. Hillary Clinton raised in Chinatown, the timing and the message could not have been better for the Clinton campaign.

The group's concerns about racial profiling by the media bolster a similar case the Clinton campaign was making in response to reports in the Los Angeles Times and, subsequently, the New York Post, about irregularities in the contributions 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.

Howard Wolfson, a campaign spokesman, responded to the news accounts by telling reporters "Asian-Americans in Chinatown and Flushing have the same right to contribute as every other American."

The next day, the group, Asian & Pacific Islander American Vote, released a statement that questioned any reports that would take issue with contributions just because they came from donors with Asian surnames. In the release Vida Benavides, "cautioned the media for suggesting that legal permanent residents who donate to campaigns should be suspect" and called reports about Clinton's Chinatown fundraising "misleading and irresponsible reporting."

What Benavides did not disclose is that she and three other members of the group's 12-member board had worked in the 1990s either for the Democratic National Committee under Clinton's campaign chairman Terry McAuliffe or for the Clinton administration. Christine Chen, the group's spokeswoman, also said in an interview that she had discussed the planned press release with the Clinton campaign prior to emailing it to reporters.

"I did touch base with the Clinton folks to find out, what are they hearing, and how are they reacting," Chen said.

Is this more evidence of the Clinton media machine firing into gear to try and disuade reporters from writing about questionable donations? Both the Clinton campaign and Chen say no.

"We did not ask them to put out a statement," said Phil Singer, a Clinton campaign spokesman. "We heard from a number of people who were outraged about the report and the way it characterized the Asian American community."

Chen said she called the Clinton campaign, as well as contacts in the campaigns of Barack Obama and John Edwards, because she wanted to urge them to avoid a repeat of the tarring that Asian American donors took in the 1990s in conncetion with contributions made to Bill Clinton.

Chen said it took 10 years to get over the scandals of 1996. "Our community is just now starting to engage again in voter participation."

--Matthew Mosk

By Washington Post editors  |  October 24, 2007; 5:39 PM ET
 
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Comments

do we really need anymore dishonesty inthe white house? hillary clinton will get nothing done in washington. how is hillary running a flawless campaign? she never answers a question,she cant decide who SHE wants to win in a stupid baseball game,let alone what to do about social security. you guys are in denial, the dirt is piling up & some of you refuse to see it,that's a shame!

Posted by: s4watson | October 25, 2007 4:39 PM | Report abuse

I'm sorry - but is this all you've got?

With everything happening in this world (and in the campaigns) you saw fit to waste everyone's time with a write-up about (shock!) a group talking with a candidate's campaign????

Last I checked that's just what a press & media outreach department of a national campaign is there for - to coordinate their message and help those who wish to help them. They ALSO (BTW) talk to guys like you before you post or publish columns like this one.

In other words... nothin' to see here folks MOVE ALONG!

Hillary's running an amazing campaign and this just proves how coordinated and effective her staff are when it comes to dealing with the issues of the day. She's not only on track for winning the nomination - but I have every reason to believe she'll beat anyone the GOP puts up next year without even breaking a sweat.

Posted by: ksmurphy | October 25, 2007 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Hillary Clinton doesn't stand a chance in a General Election.

Just because she's stood up to the Right Wing doesn't mean jack.

We need someone who can break down the divides that seperate the red and the blue and Barack Obama is the man for the job.

If you look at the General Election polls Obama has been leading all Republican candidates for the past few months. As apposed to Hillary who just nudged her way ahead in the past few weeks.

The current national polls don't mean anything because they don't include the Republicans and Independents that are voting for Barack in the Primaries.

Obama'08

Posted by: basketball80 | October 25, 2007 11:43 AM | Report abuse

To AmericanforPeace & nojunkmail00

For once there is a member of the media who dares to question the Hillary Clinton campaign practices, and all you can do is throw accusations at the Obama campaign!! How about giving me some reasons why this writer is wrong? Give me some reasons why I should vote for Hillary Clinton, other than she can "wipe the floor with Rudy"!!! Tell me about her integrity, how she is the person who is going to make my life as an average American better, how she will bring this country together to get things done!! PLEASE, tell me some GOOD news about Hillary!!
What.. you can't? Didn't think so....

BARACK OBAMA '08

Posted by: phen43 | October 25, 2007 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Congratulations, WaPo, for a week later starting report on what is likely continuing voter donations fraud by the Clintons. I want to see more, and I want to see this in the newspaper, not just on the blog. We deserve that, as your readers. INVESTIGATE don't just regurgitate.

Posted by: dani2914 | October 25, 2007 11:17 AM | Report abuse

Here we go again! No amount of protestations can cover up the fact that a goodly number of these contributions are suspect. Ms. Chen protests too much. I supposed Hsu was just circumstantial as well.

Make no mistake, any American citizen of whatever orgin has a right to contribute to any candidate. However, when you can't find a place of domicile, voter registration or any evidence of citzizenship, something is amiss and it is a violation of federal election laws. Again, this applies to any contibutor of any background.

As for Ms. Chen, I'm not worried about the scandals of 1996; I'm worried about scandals of 2008. This American smells a rat!

Posted by: NoMugwump | October 25, 2007 11:03 AM | Report abuse

Christine Chen has been caught with her hands in the cookie jar. The Clinton Machine is manipulating most of the mainstream media and some of the interest groups like APIA. Good piece of journalism. A dishwasher shelling out $2300 dollars for a campaign is the epitomy of the american dream.

Posted by: Political_Sage | October 25, 2007 11:03 AM | Report abuse

Ms Chen thank you for your response to Mr. Mosk. It is my observation that the reports he writes are filled with innuendo, contextual errors and implications intended to malign whomever he has targeted. He rarely is called upon, however, to address any challenges to his reporting and rarer still to see any followup clarification or correction.

Posted by: rdklingus | October 25, 2007 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Matthew, you quoted a portion of our conversation and linked it to an assertion that we coordinated APIAVote's statement with the Clinton campaign. We did not.

My quote reflected the fact that I was making efforts to ensure that any presidential campaign that was specifically working on Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) outreach did not start practicing racial profiling, as it was done in 1996. As I noted to you, this included the Guiliani, Edwards, Obama, and Clinton campaigns - the only campaigns with dedicated AAPI outreach staff (to our knowledge).

The backlash against AAPI political participation that year is part of the reason why the AAPI community has one of the lowest voter registration and participation rates.

You also mentioned that some of APIAVote's board members used to work for the DNC and Clinton administration, again wrongly insinuating that there was some coordination on our response. Our board includes key leaders from the AAPI community, including executive directors, organizers, policy experts and community leaders. Their combined experience spans a wide breadth of community, corporate, foundation and policy work. The board is linked by one shared vision - of a society in which all Asian Americans and Pacific Islander fully participate in and have access to the democratic process.

In the future, it is imperative that you fully and accurately capture the information provided to you in your postings.

Christine Chen
APIAVote Executive Director

Posted by: cchen | October 25, 2007 3:41 AM | Report abuse

Andrea, Obama has a habit of skipping controversial votes and then later attacking people who voted.

He skipped the vote for S-Chip
He skipped the vote for Kyl/Lieberman
He skipped the vote to censure MoveOn
He skipped the vote to censure Alberto Gonzales.

He condemns the Kyl-Lieberman non-binding resolution (though skipping the vote), yet in March of 2007, he co-sponsored a bill to label the Iranian Revolutionary Guards terrorists.

And when he was an Illinois Senator, he gained a reputation for doing the same.

Is that who you want as your leader?

Posted by: nojunkmail00 | October 24, 2007 11:15 PM | Report abuse

Consider Obama for President? He can't take on Clinton when he was right and she was wrong? How will be cream Rudy McRomney in the General Election? As a Democrat, I am sick and tired of seeing my party lose, 2000, 2002, 2004 and 2006 was the sixth year itch. I want a winner in 2008 and Hillary is the only tough cookie that will have a field day with any of the GOP wimps.

I am glad to see the Clinton camp as being strong and effective; this is how Rove and Co. won and I want a Democrat to win, simple. If they run a third party to take votes away from the GOP, I will max out towards that candidate.

Posted by: AmericanforPeace | October 24, 2007 8:21 PM | Report abuse

Hillary Clinton could never be able to get the consensus in Congress to get anything done. And ask yourself, what has she accomplished successfully in her political career to help the American people?

Plus, Hillary Clinton is NOT electable as a Presidential candidate, her voting base is way too thin. She can not win the primary.

And she has the blood of our American soldiers on her hands, she voted to send the troops to Iraq.

The main stream media has it all wrong! Barack Obama is winning the race for the Presidency.

The FACTS:

1. He has raised more money so far than any other Presidential candidate in history.

2. He is bringing in huge crowds. Just yesterday 9,500 people were rooting him on in Boston! His crowds are larger than all the other candidates.

3. He has the largest and most organized grassroots campaign.

4. He has the broadest range of supporters among all the candidates. He is loved by Democrats, Republicans, Independents, and people of all races and ages!

5. His supporters are extremely loyal and dedicated to making sure he is elected.

Also, the media and those so called polls have it all wrong about Blacks. Most Blacks ARE supporting Barack Obama.

Check out this Black web site: BlackVoices.Aol.com, go to:
http://www.blackvoices.aol.com and click on the link that says Obama Watch, look for the political poll to your right. Check out the results. 75% want Barack Obama to be President.

Please consider voting for Brack Obama -- check out his web site at:

http://www.barackobama.com

Posted by: AndreaT1 | October 24, 2007 7:05 PM | Report abuse

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