This comes to us from the Los Angeles Times, which reports donors in the poorest, most dilapidated areas in Chinatown are, in some cases, donating the maximum amount possible to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. It’s hard to not think of the Norman Hsu fundraising scandal when reading this piece:
Dishwashers, waiters and others whose jobs and dilapidated home addresses seem to make them unpromising targets for political fundraisers are pouring $1,000 and $2,000 contributions into Clinton’s campaign treasury. In April, a single fundraiser in an area long known for its gritty urban poverty yielded a whopping $380,000. When Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) ran for president in 2004, he received $24,000 from Chinatown.
Disturbingly, some of these donors can’t be found:
The tenement at 44 Henry St. was listed in Clinton’s campaign reports as the home of Shu Fang Li, who reportedly gave $1,000.
A tenant living in the apartment listed as Li’s address said through a translator that she had not heard of him, although she had lived there for the last 10 years.
A man named Liang Zheng was listed as having contributed $1,000. The address given was a large apartment building on East 194th Street in the Bronx, but no one by that name could be located there.
In the busy heart of East Broadway, beneath the Manhattan Bridge, is a building that is listed as the home of Sang Cheung Lee, also reported to have given $1,000. Trash was piled in the dimly lighted entrance hall. Neighbors said they knew of no one with Lee’s name there; they knocked on one another’s doors in a futile effort to find him.
Salespeople at a store on Canal Street were similarly baffled when asked about Shih Kan Chang, listed as working there and having given $1,000. The store sells purses, jewelry and novelty Buddha statues. Employees said they had not heard of Chang.
Another listed donor, Yi Min Liu, said he did not make the $1,000 contribution in April that was reported in his name. He said he attended a banquet for Clinton but did not give her money.
A donor who was located didn’t have the legal status to make a donation:
One New York man who said he enthusiastically donated $2,500 to Clinton doesn’t appear to be eligible to do so under federal election law. He said he came to the United States from China about two years ago and didn’t have a green card.
So who are these people, and where did the money come from? And why is it that so many of these campaign finance discrepancies always involve Asians?
Two exit questions for you, one of which has already largely been answered in Norman Hsu’s case but which resurfaces here anew. One: When is Obama going to take off the gloves on this issue? He’s uniquely positioned to risk alienating a “minority community” by asking some tough questions, and his polls are near the point where he’s got little to lose. And two: Where’s the money coming from?
Perhaps Obama doesn’t want to push this issue because doing so would attract the kind of attention to his campaign finances that he would like to avoid.