- The Washington Times - Monday, September 24, 2007

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

In traditional Chinese thinking the 12-year zodiac cycle is thought to have great influence on worldly events.

In 1996, a Year of the Rat, Bill Clinton drowned Bob Dole in a tidal wave of illegal campaign contributions, at least some of which originated from Chinese military intelligence at the highest levels. Afterwards, Democratic Party donors John Huang, Charlie Trie, Johnny Chung and Maria Hsia all pled guilty to federal campaign finance law violations and James Riady paid a fine of $8.6 million, the largest fine in campaign finance history. If John Fund of the Wall Street Journal is correct, something on the order of 120 people associated with illegal donations to the Democratic Party and the Clintons either pled guilty, turned state’s evidence or fled the country.

In his new book on Hillary Clinton, Carl Bernstein of Woodward and Bernstein fame reports that with the exception of Bill Clinton’s “libidinous carelessness, the most egregious errors” of the Clinton co-presidency were traceable to Hillary. This is certainly true in the illegal campaign contributions scandal. In 1997, for example, Brian Ross, ABC’s chief investigative reporter, reported that John Huang had obtained his sensitive position at the Commerce Department through Hillary. At the time of Huang’s appointment, a broke and desperate Web Hubbell, Mrs. Clinton’s former law partner, was facing serious jail time and then he mysteriously received $100,000 from an overseas account controlled by Huang’s patron, James Riady. Johnny Chung, a frequent visitor to the Clinton White House (courtesy of Mrs. Clinton) obtained a substantial portion of his illegal donations to the Democratic Party from the Chinese People’s Liberation Army.

Feb. 7, 2008 marks the beginning of another Year of the Rat and, given the stacked primaries, it should be clear by then if Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York is to be the Democratic Party’s nominee for president of the United States. Yet even before we reach the beginning of the Year of the Rat, the Clinton campaign is enmeshed in a new campaign finance scandal, revolving around convicted criminal Y.Y. “Norman” Hsu and almost 300 associates. As of this writing, Hsu has been charged with campaign finance law violations and the Clinton campaign has agreed to return over $800,000 from Hsu and his associates. Most observers believe this is just the beginning, not the end of the process. At this point, we have mostly mysteries:

First, why did the Secret Service allow a convicted criminal access to former first lady Hillary Clinton? Were they told to allow anyone with a check in his hand inside the security perimeter? If so, the problem may be wider than Hsu.

Second, how much money is really involved here? Hsu seems to have had access to at least $70 million and his associates certainly more.

Third, where is the money going? To the Clinton campaign, certainly, but $2,500 turned up in the Democratic mayor of New Haven’s failed Connecticut gubernatorial bid. Could this be part of Mrs. Clinton’s strategy to gain a filibuster-free Senate of 61 Democrats, 10 of whom would owe their seats to her?

Fourth, have campaign finance crimes been committed here? Some of Hsu’s associates seem to have contributed to Democratic causes beyond their means. As yet, no one is accusing them of committing an offense but it’s a federal crime to launder a campaign contribution through a third party.

Fifth, what is the underlying force connecting Hsu with his disparate associates? Mr. Hsu’s engaging personality or something else? Is it the Chinese army again, either directly or through third-party cut-outs, perhaps Chinese organized crime figures?

Sixth, in a late 1980s Ponzi scheme, Hsu scammed his victims out of over $1 million. This led to his conviction in California and his flight to avoid three years in the slammer. Yet, for much of the past 15 years Hsu has lived openly in the United States without any obvious attempt by his victims to seek either their money back or put Hsu in jail. Were they too embarrassed by the experience and just wrote it off? Or, were they paid off or frightened off by parties unknown?

Two issues are not mysteries:

First, the idea being peddled in the media that Hsu was just gratuitously pouring in hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash to the Clinton campaign, the Bill Clinton Presidential Library in Arkansas, and needy Democrats at the national, state and counties levels is preposterous. Had he not been exposed, it’s hard to imagine that a bill of some kind would not have been presented after Inauguration Day. That’s certainly what James Riady did.

Finally, as if we needed to be reminded, the Clintons will take money from anyone, under any circumstances, if it gets them one step closer to the presidency.

William C. Triplett II, is the co-author of “Year of the Rat,” Regnery 1998.

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