Hillary's 3Q Refunds Part III: Pry It From My Senate Campaign's Cold, Dead Hands
Not only are the 249 refunds sent by the Clinton campaign to Hsu-connected donors riddled with inaccurate mailing addresses, but now the campaign is vowing to keep any money these donors gave to her Senate campaign or to HillPAC (more than a quarter million dollars, according to the LA Times).
I noted Monday night that even among just the 26 Hsu contributors we knew about prior to the Q3 filing, there was a refund discrepancy of $125,000 related to the Senate and PAC money. Turns out at least 50 other Hsu donors also sent part of their contributions through these doors (doors which, of course, ultimately led to the Presidential campaign via the candidate's $10 million inter-committee transfer in the first quarter). And Hillary's happy to keep it.
"Because we did not keep track of contributions in the same way during the Senate campaign we have no basis for knowing that these individuals were solicited by Norman Hsu," said Clinton campaign spokesman Howard Wolfson. He said the Clinton campaign had gone beyond what it was legally or ethically bound to do when it gave back the presidential contributions.
That's tough to sync up with what Clinton said on Meet the Press on September 23rd.
[O]ut of an abundance of caution, we did return any contribution that we could in any way, no matter how indirect, link to [Hsu].
I'd say donors whose Presidential contributions were explicitly bundled by Hsu remain at least indirectly linked to Hsu when they contribute via her other committees. Here's an easy rule of thumb to fulfill that "abundance of caution": anyone bundled by Hsu gets all their money back.
Among the donations whose connection to Hsu the campaign has "no basis for knowing" are more than $30,000 from the California Paws, the poster family of the Norman Hsu scandal. So far, Clinton has refunded just $23,000 to the Paws (less than half of what they gave her).
And how about Danny Lee (another of the original Hsu-linked donors, whose home address was once listed by Norman Hsu as his own). Out of an "abundance of caution", Hillary saw fit to refund $4,600 to Lee, but not the other $20,000 he "contributed" ($9,000 of which came in after the 2006 election). Lee's co-habitants Soe Win Lee and Yu Fen Huang also each gave Clinton $9,000 after the 2006 election which is not being returned (despite the campaign returning their most recent donations, in an abundance of caution).
Between the Paws and the Lees alone (Hsu's easily identifiable heaviest hitters), Clinton is under-refunding by $70,000. The mind boggles at the campaign not being able to find any link "no matter how indirect" between these donations and Norman Hsu.
In choosing to keep the $250,000 in Hsu-connected money that came in through the PAC and Senate committees, simply because the official bundler of such donations wasn't recorded, the Clinton campaign seems to signal it's forgetting (or dismissing) the fact that these funds aren't tainted only because they were solicited by a career criminal and serial fugitive. The funds are tainted because that criminal is accused of reimbursing some of the nominal "contributors". Further, the criminal complaints against Hsu allege that he financed his massive and fraudulent contributions with money he swindled out of more than a hundred investors. The FBI, the SEC, the FEC, and at least one U.S. Attorney's office are investigating and the alleged victims are hoping to recover the $60 million they say Hsu stole from them.
For Clinton to be winkingly holding on to hundreds of thousands of dollars that can be quite readily linked to Hsu (as easily as referencing her own refund roster) shows an abundance of something, but it's not caution.
Update: Commenting on yesterday's post about 47% of Hillary's Q3 refunds being sent to the wrong ZIP code, reader and postal worker Terri confirms, "Wrong zip code with correct address will be RTS, Return to Sender. The post office does not take the time to look up the correct zip code and manually fix and re-route."
What a financially serendipitous series of 118 clerical errors for the campaign to make.
Update: I've e-mailed the campaign, asking if they have any insights into what happened with the bum ZIPs and whether they plan to re-issue the refunds if they're returned to sender. Some of the 118 were for nearby or possibly synonymous towns, but 66 of them were clear out-of-state (accounting for more than $140,000 in refunds issued). I've put those 66 into a new tab in the spreadsheet, available here, which I also pointed out to the Clinton campaign.
I've also asked one of the SFI (the New York fund) investors who did receive his refund check, despite being listed with a bad (though nearby) ZIP, to check the paperwork and see which one the campaign used in the actual mailing. If it shows his correct ZIP code, then this issue appears to be just a matter of a hundred or so clerical errors in the filing itself. If it shows the wrong one, then it's a good bet that much of the $140,000 will have truly gone astray (and as a result, will be retained by Clinton, unless she fixes the addresses and re-issues the refunds).
Update: I've heard back from one of the NYC donors listed in the filing with a bad ZIP code. While he didn't keep the envelope, the letter enclosed with his refund reflected his correct ZIP code, so it seems likely that this was a foul up contained at the disclosure level. The campaign ought to file an amended report so the database will be accurate, but hopefully the refunds (while frequently partial) will all reach their addressees.
Handcrafted by Flip on October 17, 2007 |
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