Hillary campaign refunded $7,000 in donations from Chinatown fundraiser; Update: Cook tells NY Post she was reimbursed for $1,000 donation

This would be the same single fundraiser at which she raked in more than 15 times John Kerry’s total take from the entire neighborhood during 2004. The New York Times reports today that the campaign was so curious about how dishwashers could afford to drop thousand-dollar wads in the collection plate, they decided to do a little spontaneous investigating of their own. And by “investigating” I mean that they sent out form letters asking the donors to give them comfort by stating for the record that the money was theirs.

And even that didn’t work in every case.

The Clinton campaign said that after the Chinatown fund-raiser in April, which raised about $380,000, aides conducted a standard review of the donor list: If donors’ stated professions seemed out of line with their donations — for instance, if a dishwasher gave $1,000 — the campaign sent letters asking them to affirm in writing that the money was their own.

In seven cases, with donations totaling $7,000, questions were raised, and those donors did not respond to requests to confirm their contributions. That money was then returned.

What a champ. Kindly revisit the LA Times’s blockbuster at this point and note that among a random sample of Chinese donors, they couldn’t find any kind of ID paper trail for fully one-third of them. There’s no reason to believe the campaign’s investigating that, of course; all they want to know is whether some of the more facially implausible donors are willing to claim that the money came from their own pockets, whether it actually did or not. Sample quote from yesterday’s piece: “Another listed donor, Yi Min Liu, said he did not make the $1,000 contribution in April that was reported in his name. He said he attended a banquet for Clinton but did not give her money.” Another quote, more to the point:

Many of Clinton’s Chinatown donors said they had contributed because leaders in neighborhood associations told them to. In some cases, donors said they felt pressure to give.

You can’t pressure a guy — like, say, a dishwasher — who literally doesn’t have the money, though. What do you do in that case, I wonder? Maybe Howard Wolfson should ask some of those “neighborhood associations” if they have any ideas.

The saddest thing about all this is that no one has a very strong incentive to do the legwork on researching it. The campaigns don’t want to know if their donors are shady, as we saw in the willful blindness towards Norman Hsu. Hillary’s rivals have an incentive, of course, but there must be fundraising skeletons in Obama’s and Edwards’s closets too, just as there must be plenty on the GOP side. That makes it a game of mutually assured destruction among the oppo research teams and no one wants to play that game. The media doesn’t have a grand incentive either, the LA Times’s laudable example notwithstanding, because investigations like these are resource-intensive while basically amounting to fishing expeditions, with little guarantee of finding any wrongdoing. Plus, once you investigate one campaign, you open yourself up to charges of bias by not investigating them all. The best hope is the FEC, but does the FEC have the time and personnel — and political will, given the inevitable feeble claims of anti-Asian racism that are bubbling up here — to do spot checks like this? I’m asking honestly; I don’t know the answer. And if the answer is yes, why aren’t they doing it?

Update: Exactly but exactly what I was talking about up top:

Hsiao Yen Wang, a cook in Chinatown, is listed as giving Clinton $1,000 on April 13. Contacted yesterday, she told The Post she had written a check.

But it was on behalf of a man named David Guo, president of the Fujian American Cuisine Council, and Wang told The Post that Guo had repaid her for the $1,000 contribution.

I’ll bet Hsiao got a letter from the campaign asking her to confirm that she donated $1,000 and I’ll bet she answered that letter, completely honestly, by saying that she had. Which, per the campaign’s very scrupulous “investigation,” makes it a perfectly legitimate donation. When is the Wall Street Journal going to take the baton here and descend on this pool of donors in earnest? They can start by telling us a little more about the Fujian American Cuisine Council. Is that one of those nice “neighborhood associations” that’s been so helpful in drumming up cash for Hillary?

Follow the link and see what else the Post found. Hint: a lot of the same things the LA Times found.

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