Saturday, September 15, 2007
ONCE A CLINTON . . .
The New York Post
September 15, 2007 -- For Hillary Clinton, it must seem like déjà vu all over again (as Yogi Berra might put it).
But for voters, Camp Clinton's panicky move to refund $850,000 (temporarily, anyway) in donations linked to former fugitive con artist Norman Hsu hearkens back to hubby Bill's sordid fund-raising during his 1996 re-election campaign.
And the funny money isn't the only ghost from the Clintons' past.
Newsweek reports that the senator is relying for foreign-policy advice on a triumverate of her husband's top advisers - including Sandy "Sticky Fingers" Berger.
You remember Berger - who pleaded guilty to stealing secrets from the National Archives by smuggling them out in his pants and socks. (That's Hillary's problem in a nutshell - socks and Hsus.)
Specifically, the documents Berger heisted and shredded were drafts of a memo by anti-terrorism adviser Richard Clarke (who's also now mentoring Hillary) that reportedly identified national-security weaknesses so "glaring" that only sheer luck prevented a 9/11-style attack during Clinton's presidency.
Bill Clinton laughed the whole thing off as "typical absent-minded Sandy." Now this convict is poised to get a high-level job in a Clinton II administration.
As for Norman Hsu, an aide to GOP White House hopeful Fred Thompson asks: "Didn't Hillary learn anything from Charlie Trie?" (He's the guy who delivered hundreds of thousands in illegal "straw man" donations to the '96 re-election campaign in two manila envelopes.)
You might have thought that Hillary's intimate knowledge of that scandal-plagued cash drive would have prompted her to avoid "bundlers" like Hsu.
If so, you would be wrong.
Last June, when the California Democratic Party passed on concerns that Hsu was involved in shady business, Hillary's finance director responded: "I can tell you with 100 [percent] certainty that Norman Hsu is NOT involved in a Ponzi scheme. He is COMPLETELY legit."
It then emerged, of course, that Hsu had been a fugitive for 15 years on charges of defrauding investors. He promised to surrender, failed to do so, then got nabbed after having some sort of breakdown on a passenger train.
Clinton's campaign insists that Hsu fell through the cracks of a faulty computer search (though reporters checking the same database found records of a bankruptcy filing, multiple lawsuits and links to possible criminal cases).
And her campaign chairman - Terry McAuliffe, known for his methodical courtship of big-money sources for Bill and Hillary - is pleading ignorance, telling The Washington Post, "I don't know how [Hsu] became involved."
This, despite reports that Hillary told her top finance aides to carefully vet big-money people - so as to avoid anything that would conjure up bad memories of Clinton-Gore '96.
But as one unnamed major fund-raiser told The New York Times: "The Clintons are the ultimate pragmatists in who they hang out with. If you can be useful to them, they will find a way to make it work."
That explains why Team Hillary turned a blind eye to Norman Hsu.
But what about Sandy Berger?
Probably just nostalgia.