Before considering an amendment to combat Citizens United, perhaps there's another approach to limit the ability of well-heeled special interests to give to political organizations that act as surrogates for politicians.Continue reading
Suitably Flip Opens up Bundles of Hsu’s
Running names identified by the media as being part of Norman Hsu's network of donors through federal, state and even municipal campaign finance records, Suitably Flip offers the most comprehensive road map to following the money. Sadly, there's no way to be certain which of these contributions were truly bundled by Hsu, and which might have been independently. While the recently enacted Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007 requires campaigns to identify bundled contributions totaling more than $15,000 from registered lobbyists, there's no provision requiring the same sort of disclosure about bundles from convicted felons, or anyone else for that matter.Continue reading
New Database on Bundling
Bundling, that is the practice of one donor gathering donations from many different individuals in an organization or community and presenting the sum to a campaign, is as popular as ever by the major presidential campaigns. The poster child for questionable bundling to 2008 campaign so far goes to the still highly suspect actions of Norman Hsu. Bundling has in past cycles raised concerns too. President Bush's more infamous bundlers were Enron CEO Ken Lay and disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Taylor Lincoln at Public Citizen's Watchdog blog shows how this practice is fraught with potential scandal.
Thanks to Public Citizen and their new 2008 version of its White House for Sale databasee, it's now easier than ever to track the big bundlers for each of the presidential candidates. It also allows you to determine which bundlers are lobbyists. "With bundlers playing a bigger role than ever before in this race, anticipated to cost at least $1 billion," writes Katie Schlieper for Public Campaign. As she said, this is a great tool to use to connect the dots between donors, candidates, and policy priorities.Continue reading
Diggin’ a Little Deeper
Mike McIntire's front page story in the Times this morning put a little more meat on the bones of the Wall Street Journal story that outing Norman Hsu as a problematic political fundraiser (forget, for the moment, the fugitive on the lam piece of this tale.)
Here are some of the telling details:
The records show that Components Ltd., a company controlled by Mr. Hsu that has no obvious business purpose and appears to exist only on paper, has paid a total of more than $100,000 to at least nine people who made campaign contributions to Mrs. Clinton and others through Mr. Hsu....Continue reading
There’s Gold In Those Databases
Brody Mullins had a terrific story yesterday in the Wall Street Journal that raises questions about whether six members of the Paw family, who live in a modest neighborhood in San Francisco and who list their occupation as "gift shop owner," could possibly make $45,000 in political contributions to Sen. Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign.
Obviously digging into numerous databases, Mullins discovered that the Paws live in a modest 1,280 square foot house that they recently refinanced for $270,000. The head of the household is a mail carrier earning $49,000 a year. His wife is a homemaker. Mullins also figured out that the Paw family contributions are nearly identical to donations made by a wealthy New Yorker -- Norman Hsu -- who once listed the Paw family home as his own address. Hsu is a big fund raiser for Clinton.
How does this much money come from a family that doesn't appear to have these kinds of financial resources? It raises questions in the minds of many campaign finance experts (including yours truly) as to whether they were illegal contributions.Were the Paws "reimbursed" for their generous contributions to Clinton by Hsu? Hsu and the Paws deny any wrong doing. But it sure makes you wonder.
Given the crush for cash by all the presidential candidates, there are lots of stories like this in these databases.
Update: The Washington Post reports that Hilliary Clinton sees no reason to return the contributions by either Hsu or the Paw Family. Further Update: After reports surfaced in the LA Times today that there is an outstanding warrant out of Hsu, the Clinton campaign returns his money.Continue reading