Last week we invoked Steely Dan’s shadowy Dr. Wu to ask “Are you with me Mr. Hsu?” In the song that takes his name for its title, Dr. Wu is the “ordinary guy” who has become a shadow of his former self. It’s not quite clear who he is (“Are you crazy, are you high, or just an ordinary guy?”). Something along the same lines seemed to apply to Hillary benefactor Norman Hsu. First the Wall Street Journal disclosed the mystery of his contributions to the Clinton campaign and other Democratic coffers. Within hours the Los Angeles Times reported that Hsu is a long-time fugitive swindler wanted on a Califonia fraud conviction. Now comes word that Hsu has skipped a bail reduction hearing scheduled for this week, forfeited $2 million bail, and skipped the country. Mr. Hsu is not with us anymore.
The Hsu story recalls the Clinton campaign scandals of 1996, but who can really recall them, and what were they all about? They dissolve into the Great Cloud of Unknowing whipped up by the Clinton scandal management machine. How little we remember the cast of characters: Charlie Trie, James Riady, John Huang, Maria Hsia, Ted Sioeng, Johnny Chung, Np Lap Seng et al. To paraphrase “American Pie,” do you recall what was revealed the day the Clinton campaign scandals died? In Legacy: Paying the Price for the Clinton Years, Rich Lowry cuts to the chase:
[I]t is an indisputable fact that the president’s fund-raising operation was infiltrated by Chinese agents, many of whom were warmly welcomed as valued contributors and given intimate audiences with the president and other senior administration officials.
But why does memory fail us on this shocking episode? Lowry writes:
The fund-raising scandal fizzled politically because most of the major witnesses cut and ran. As many as 120 individuals took the Fifth or fled the country to escape the various investigations.
Bill Clinton responded to the campaign finance scandals arising from his 1996 reelection campaign with the resourcefulness for which he had by that time become renowned. First, he categorically denied wrongdoing. Then he asserted that if he had made mistakes, Republicans had done so first. Finally he proclaimed that whatever he had done was for the good of the country. Sensing that he had not been entirely persuasive in these assertions, Clinton resorted to the favorite stratagem of presidents in need of political cover: the announcement of a bipartisan commission.
Last week a reader emailed us a tip on Mr. Hsu:
It turns out that several people I know put money into a factoring company run by, I am told, Mr. Hsu. My friends and I all know the New York-based businessman who was Mr. Hsu’s counterpart in New York through a club we belong to (for what it is worth, the New York guy is not Chinese). The company was established to factor clothing made in China which was then sent back to the US. The New York-based principal of this business established himself in previous years as an entertainment promoter of some note.
Over the course of the past few years, these friends of mine have placed many hundreds of thousands of dollars each into the fund — egged on by documents reporting outsized returns. Over the past few months or so, each of the investors was pressured to contribute to HRC’s campaign, as “appreciation” for the profits they were alleged to be making. Now they are told that the company is most likely wiped out — the information is sketchy on account of the fact that the New York principal has “lawyered up” on them.
Surely someone who works on these matters full-time for a living can shed some additional light on the mysterious Mr. Hsu and the nature of his commitment to his Democratic friends. Right?
UPDATE: This morning’s news brings word that Mr. Hsu is with us again, at least for the moment.
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