On the wall of Hsiao Yen Wang’s apartment, a cramped, 17th-floor public housing unit on the city’s Lower East Side, are photographs of her husband, David Guo, a cook who specializes in Fujian cuisine.
One photo stands out: Guo shaking Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s hand, a memento from a $1,000-a-person fundraiser for the New York senator held in New York’s Chinatown last April.
Last week, Wang got another memento _ a calling card from a Justice Department criminal investigator. The investigator asked Wang if she was coerced into giving money to the campaign and whether she knew of anybody else who may have been forced to contribute.
Wang says she wasn’t coerced but her contribution was refunded anyway because the campaign thought that sum was suspicious coming from a low-wage earner. The DOJ won’t confirm the investigation but let’s assume it’s true. Why would someone from the criminal division, as opposed to the FEC, be snooping around the area? Well, maybe because of stuff like this:
FEC records show that the campaign returned at least $8,000 in checks to at least eight donors, most of them at the end of June. Among those donors were four identified as cooks and one as a cashier. The campaign also returned $4,600 to a donor who appeared to have earlier given the maximum allowed by law.
The campaign appears to have missed some others.
In one small store, a woman said she donated to the Clinton campaign but didn’t have citizenship or a green card. A man living in a Brooklyn boarding house who identified himself as an artist said he also gave $1,000, but said he, too, has no citizenship and no green card.
The AP pulled the addresses of 44 donors at random to see if any were fake. All were real, and the reporters personally spoke to 19 of the donors. But:
One address was a mahjong parlor. At another, a donor identified as a cashier could not be found, and the building superintendent said he had not heard of the person. Associates of some people listed as donors said they were in China and could not be contacted. Others did not return messages left with families.
The LA Times couldn’t find one-third of the donors they checked; the AP did better, but still appears to have fallen below 50%. Stay tuned.
Update: Captain Ed makes a nice catch: the New York Post story from a few weeks ago that alleged an illegal reimbursement neglected to note that the reimbursement was between a husband and wife — namely, Hsiao Yen Wang and David Guo, the couple mentioned in the AP story. That means it wasn’t illegal. Bad job, Posties.