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Aug. 31: Fugitive Democratic fundraiser Norman Hsu prepares to surrender as he arrives at a court in Redwood City, Calif.
REDWOOD CITY, Calif. — A top Democratic fundraiser whose criminal past roiled the campaigns of top presidential candidates turned himself in Friday in California, where he had been a fugitive for more than 15 years.
Judge H. James Ellis ordered Norman Hsu handcuffed and jailed until he could post $2 million bail, which he did after spending about five hours behind bars.
A Justice Department source disclosed that the FBI has opened an investigation into Hsu's campaign donations.
Norman Hsu was wandering an Amtrak train bare-chested and shoeless and "freaked out" when he was nabbed, a witness said.
"I thought he had a suitcase full of crack or meth," fellow passenger Alberto Dee, 21, told the San Francisco Chronicle.
The train's conductor said the two-time fugitive looked like an elderly man with dementia, and that's why he called 911.
He had no idea Hsu was a high-profile Democratic fund-raiser who made hefty donations to Sen. .Hillary Clinton and other pols - while on the run from fraud charges for 15 years.
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, ~ The Manhattan office addresses he listed appeared to be little more than mail drops~ In all, he has raised more than $1 million for Democrats.
The records make clear that the group was more than just a loose collection of friends, family and co-workers ~. Rather, each person had a direct financial relationship with Mr. Hsu, either receiving money from his company or paying into it, ~
The records show that during that one-month period, Components Ltd. took in close to $600,000, about a third of it wired to the company’s account by two people in California and New York who also were part of Mr. Hsu’s circle of campaign contributors. At the same time, the company issued checks and wire transfers totaling $660,000, much of it to the same group of people ~
This is a very sophisticated operation solely designed to avoid FEC regulations on contribution limits and reporting requirements. Since we can assume such a scheme was not ideologically driven (or at least it would be a stretch to think so), there must be another purpose. And we won't know that until we find the source of the money.
Campaign Reporting Violations
In the Matter of Mark Gorenberg, FPPC No. 06-0292. Mark Gorenberg, of San Francisco, failed to timely file a semi-annual campaign statement disclosing contributions totaling $31,100 in 2004 (1 count).
So the Times has a source and that source provided them with a bank statement and cancelled checks that prove Hsu was bundling illegally. Again, this was only one month in 2003, yet put together with other news accounts, it appears it was an ongoing enterprise and spread throughout the major Democrat candidates
These are not piddly Mayors and Assemblymen, the names astound: Ted Kennedy, Ed Rendell, Patrick Kennedy, Hillary Clinton, Senator John Tester, John Kerry...In other words, this was an ongoing money conduit to the heart of the Democrats and no one in that party took the time to research Mr. Hsu?
The Democrats are all tainted by this and this week Barack Obama's name came up repeatedly:
Hsu was expected to organize at least three major Democrat events on the West Coast in the coming weeks, though at least two of those events are now in doubt.
"Around the office it was known back in January or February that Hillary's finance people had offered Norman the finance chair job for the Western part of the country," says a DNC staffer ~
"No one vetted him," says another Clinton insider. "The kind of money he was promising and then bringing in was all our people needed to see, and he had a track record." Now the DNC is trying to figure out where all of Hsu's donor money was coming from,
despite being on the lam from a 1991 San Mateo County conviction for grand theft, the 56-year-old businessman moved up the political ladder from a 2003 check for presidential hopeful John Kerry~ Within a year of writing the $2,000 check to Kerry, Hsu was giving $12,000 to the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee and $21,000 to the Democratic National Committee.
When Hsu gave that first contribution to Kerry in 2003, his name likely popped up on Democratic donor lists across the nation.
"Once it becomes public that you gave a $2,000 or $3,000 check to a candidate, you might as well cut yourself, start bleeding and jump into a pool filled with sharks," said Darry Sragow, a political veteran who has run a number of Democratic campaigns.
WASHINGTON -- Confronted with new evidence that it had ignored warnings about fundraiser Norman Hsu, Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign abruptly announced late today that it was returning $850,000 from 260 donors associated with Hsu.
The announcement was made five minutes after the Los Angeles Times asked Clinton officials to respond to mid-June campaign e-mails the newspaper obtained that dismissed concerns about Hsu and his business practices.