No phony businesses or great train escapes in this one, alas, but on the upside it’s much easier to follow the money. One HillRaiser suspected of laundering contributions through frontmen is a fluke; two is a pattern.

When Hillary Rodham Clinton held an intimate fund-raising event at her Washington home in late March, Pamela Layton donated $4,600, the maximum allowed by law, to Mrs. Clinton’s presidential campaign.

But the 37-year-old Ms. Layton says she and her husband were reimbursed by her husband’s boss for the donations. “It wasn’t personal money. It was all corporate money,” Mrs. Layton said outside her home here. “I don’t even like Hillary. I’m a Republican.”

The boss is William Danielczyk, founder of a Washington-area private-equity firm and a major fund-raising “bundler” for Mrs. Clinton. Mrs. Layton’s gift was one of more than a dozen donations that night from people with Republican ties or no history of political giving. Mr. Danielczyk and his family, employees and friends donated a total of $120,000 to Mrs. Clinton in the days around the fund-raiser…

One person at the event was a Washington-area investor who was considering putting some money in one of Mr. Danielczyk’s ventures. The investor, a registered Republican, said he was invited by Mr. Danielczyk and a colleague who were wooing him to invest at least $125,000 in one of their companies.

The investor, who spoke on condition of anonymity, says he didn’t donate any money to Mrs. Clinton. Campaign-finance records show that the investor contributed $4,600 on March 30 to Mrs. Clinton. The reason for the discrepancy isn’t clear…

Other Republican voters who contributed the maximum amount to Mrs. Clinton at this event included Mr. Danielczyk’s mother, sister, personal assistant and a half-dozen employees or their spouses. Most of the donors had never made a political donation before contributing $4,600 to Mrs. Clinton, according to fund-raising records.

Danielczyk naturally denies having reimbursed anyone, but it’s the fortunate PA who’s paid so handsomely that they can afford to drop four digits on the Glacier. As for the investor, that’s probably not illegal but it does offer a glimpse of how slimy the business of campaign fundraising is. Of the $120,000 donated by Danielczyk’s circle, how much of that came from people who’ll actually pull the lever for Clinton when the time comes?

Now, I want you to read this article about Hsu, paying special attention to the end. It deals with the question that’s loomed over Hsugate since the story first broke — namely, how a guy with seemingly no actual businesses to his name amassed a fortune so vast that he could pour millions of dollars down the Democrats’ gullet. The leading theory is that he’s a con man with a knack for running Ponzi schemes but that doesn’t quite work when you consider that legitimate businessmen like Joel Rosenman were confident enough in Hsu’s operations to lend him $40 mil. See-Dub speculated the other day that there must be a “real” business somewhere, or at least enough of one to satisfy Rosenman’s due diligence, and the likeliest candidate is China. But which Chinese entity would be willing to manufacture clothing for Hsu at bargain prices, perhaps in the knowledge that the huge profits he pocketed in the U.S. would be going straight into the Democrats’ coffers? Hmmmm.

As I say, read his post — but only if you read that second WSJ article, too. See-Dub’s theory doesn’t explain why Hsu was ultimately unable to pay back Rosenman’s investment. If he had a money machine, that money machine should have kept paying out. It also doesn’t explain the mysterious “factor” mentioned in the Journal piece, which sounds like something more typical of a Ponzi scheme than of See-Dub’s nefarious plot. And finally, it doesn’t answer the other looming question in all this: if Hsu was trying to buy influence among American politicans for himself or whoever it is that’s bankrolling him, why did he limit his donations to Democrats and the lion’s share to Hillary? Why not spread it around? Flip Pidot e-mails to say he may have an answer to that one soon. Stay tuned.

Update: As someone said in the comments, one is a fluke, two is a pattern, and three or more is a par-tay.

A list of the donors who have “bundled” large sums from dozens of individuals to give to Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential campaign includes several figures who were involved in the 1990s Democratic Party fundraising scandal that tarnished her husband’s record…

Clinton includes on her list of “Hillraisers” — those who have committed to raising more than $100,000 for her White House bid — several financiers linked to past troubles. They include Marvin Rosen, the former Democratic National Committee finance chairman whose efforts to reward six-figure party donors with attendance at White House coffees and overnight stays in the Lincoln Bedroom became the focal point of Senate hearings into fundraising abuses. Rosen did not return messages left at his offices in Florida and New York.

William Stuart Price, the Oklahoma oilman also on the “Hillraiser” list, stunned a courtroom in 1995 when he detailed how his former gas company had tried to “gain influence” with the Clinton administration by providing $160,000 in money and membership in a ritzy Washington golf club to the son of a Cabinet secretary. Price, who was never accused of wrongdoing, did not return calls seeking comment.

Price’s testimony became the focal point of a criminal investigation of Ron Brown, then commerce secretary and a former chairman of the Democratic Party. The inquiry ended with the conviction of Price’s former bosses, Nora and Gene Lum, for making illegal donations.

Also on the list is former senator Robert G. Torricelli (D-N.J.), who withdrew from a 2002 reelection campaign after being “severely admonished” by the Senate for taking lavish gifts from a businessman and contributor, David Chang. Torricelli did not return messages left at his office yesterday.

Update: As part of his general ownage of this story, Flip’s gotten an e-mail from who he says is one of the donors bundled for Hillary by Norman Hsu. Quote:

I thought you might be interested in learning that contrary to a statement by Howard Wolfson on September 10th 2007 “an estimated 260 donors this week will receive refunds totaling approximately $850,000 from the campaign” this money still has not been returned – at least not to me. I know this because I was a donor who had my arm twisted to make a contribution to Hillary Clinton’s campaign on behalf of Norman Hsu and I haven’t seen a dime returned…

After three calls to the Hillary Campaign (703 469 2008) no one knew who was responsible for returning these donations.

Remember, she’s planning to ask them to re-donate the money to her once she gives it back. Maybe she just decided to cut out the middle step.

Federal criminal charges pertaining to his Ponzi schemes are coming against Stormin’ Norman in Manhattan today, incidentally. Sometime this afternoon, says CBS.