What Did The Clinton Campaign Know And When Did They Know It By Betsy Newmark

The Los Angeles Times, that rightwing rag, revealed that the Clinton campaign had been warned that fundraiser Norman Hsu was involved in a suspicious ponzi scheme.

Before the announcement, new evidence surfaced that the Clinton camp had dismissed allegations about Hsu made by a Southern California businessman. In an e-mail obtained by The Times, a Clinton campaign staffer told a California Democratic Party official in June that the businessman’s concerns were unwarranted.

“I can tell you with 100 certainty that Norman Hsu is NOT involved in a ponzi scheme,” wrote Samantha Wolf, who was a campaign finance director for the Western states.”He is COMPLETELY legit.”

In fact, Hsu was a fugitive wanted on a 15-year-old bench warrant stemming from an early 1990s investment fraud case.

The businessman’s query prompted Clinton staffers to review public records about Hsu, but no problems surfaced, the campaign source said. In part because of that incident, the campaign also announced Monday that it would institute more stringent procedures to vet major contributors, including running criminal background checks.

The man who warned the Democrats in California who then warned the Clinton campaign was convinced that Hsu was a very suspicious fellow.

Yesterday, the campaign insisted it did all it should to vet Hsu after California businessman Jack Cassidy warned in June that Hsu’s investment operation was fishy. Cassidy e-mailed his tips to the California Democratic Party, which forwarded them to the Clinton campaign.

Cassidy did not want to talk about the case, saying he doesn’t want to jeopardize the FBI’s efforts. But he wants Hsu prosecuted. He told The News that Hsu was a reverse Robin Hood – “a hood robbin’ the poor to give to the rich.”

His warning “prompted a search of publicly available information, which did not reveal Mr. Hsu’s decade-plus-old warrant,” said Clinton adviser Howard Wolfson. He would not say why the campaign didn’t follow up on specifics Cassidy included to explain his suspicions.

“They knew [about Hsu], and they knew back in June,” a source told The News.

Cassidy raised a red flag after a friend came to him with a tale of being offered 64% annual returns by Hsu.

“It was either predatory lending or a Ponzi scheme,” the source said, adding that the FBI had interviewed Cassidy and took as evidence numerous e-mails he sent to political officials about Hsu.

But was it really so difficult to find out if Hsu was a someone that a political campaign shouldn’t be tied to? Los Angeles Times has poked holes in that defense.

The most obvious red flag: A check of a commonly used database produces a 1990 San Francisco Chronicle news story detailing how Norman Hsu had been kidnapped by gang members in the San Mateo County suburb of Foster City. A second widely used database discloses that Norman Yuan Yuen Hsu of Foster City had a bankruptcy in 1990.

Having established that he lived in San Mateo County, a check of the San Mateo County Superior Court’s website reveals that Norman Yuan Yuen Hsu had a criminal case.

So how diligent was that campaign investigation after they’d been warned that Hsu was pushing a suspicious ponzi scheme? They knew how much money he was gathering for them so you would have thought that they’d have been alert to such an accusation and maybe done more than a cursory check. I thought that the Clinton camp was composed of those experienced politicos who didn’t make this kind of mistake?

This content was used with the permission of Betsy’s Page.

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