ABC and CBS Catch Up with Fugitive Clinton/Democratic Donor Norman Hsu

Norman Hsu's appearance in a San Mateo County, California courtroom Friday to answer for a 1991 grand larceny charge, prompted full stories Friday night on the ABC and CBS evening newscasts catching up with the case of the fugitive donor to many Democratic candidates, including Hillary Clinton. On Thursday night, the NBC Nightly News became the first broadcast network program to report on Hsu, in a story from Lisa Myers detailed in this NB item, and on Friday night anchor Brian Williams offered a brief update about Hsu's court appearance.

On Friday's CBS Evening News, Sandra Hughes pointed out how “a large group of Hsu's bundling checks came from this little green house in Daly City, California that Hsu once listed as a home address. The Paw family, which lives here, has given $45,000 to Hillary Clinton since 2005.” Hughes also noted how Clinton has returned $23,000 in direct donations from Hsu, but on ABC's World News, Brian Ross reported that “in the last year Hsu has helped to raise more than a million dollars for Senator Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign” and he highlighted how Hsu “was scheduled to be one of the hosts of a major Clinton fundraiser in California next month.” Ross also saw a pattern, as he recalled a fact which has received little broadcast network air time -- that Clinton's “kickoff Senate fundraiser in 2000 was organized by a convicted felon.”

A Los Angeles Times story posted Friday afternoon, “Fugitive fundraiser Hsu turns himself in,” recounted Hsu's appearance in the Redwood City court where he posted $2 million in bail to avoid being held in jail.

Newspapers have been out in front on this scandal with the cable news networks picking up on a Tuesday Wall Street Journal article on Hsu's “bundling” of questionable donations followed by a Wednesday front page Los Angeles Times story, “Democratic fundraiser is a fugitive in plain sight,” which revealed how he's been a fugitive from San Mateo County, California for 15 years over charges related to an import scheme involving latex gloves. On Thursday, the New York Times ran a story, “Clinton Donor Under a Cloud in Fraud Case.”

Transcripts of the August 31 CBS and ABC stories which I created by correcting the closed-captioning against the video:
FILL-IN HARRY SMITH: There's another political scandal unfolding. A top Democratic fundraiser named Norman Hsu surrendered to authorities in California today, 15 years after he skipped out on felony charges. All that time he was raising money for candidates and hiding, apparently, in plain sight. Here's Sandra Hughes.

SANDRA HUGHES: He's known as a big money man in the Democratic Party, donating a quarter of a million dollars to various candidates over the last three years. But Norman Hsu is also known in California as a wanted man. Today he turned himself in on charges he defrauded investors in a pyramid scheme back in the early '90s.

HILLARY CLINTON: I was surprised like everyone else who knew him and I think he's done the right thing, turning himself in.

HUGHES: Senator Clinton's campaign christened Hsu a “Hill Raiser” for all the money he generates. But yesterday Clinton gave Hsu's $23,000 donation to charity. Other candidates were quick to wash their hands of his money, too, returning it or donating it [on screen pictures oand amounts for five Democrats, including $7,000 for Obama]. Hsu is famous for bundling, getting other people to donate on behalf of a candidate, a modern day passing of the hat. But some say this practice can be dangerous to a campaign. A large group of Hsu's bundling checks came from this little green house in Daly City, California that Hsu once listed as a home address. The Paw family, which lives here has given $45,000 to Hillary Clinton since 2005 and $200,000 to other Democratic candidates.

MEREDITH MCGEHEE, CAMPAIGN LEGAL CENTER: Because some of these people appear to be of modest means, it raises questions about whether or not this money has been underwritten by someone else, by Mr. Hsu or really if the people who gave this money could really afford it.

HUGHES: So far, there is no evidence that Norman Hsu reimbursed the Paw family for their donations. In today's case, he's accused of stealing $1 million. That could put the Democrats' big fundraiser behind bars. Sandra Hughes, CBS News, Los Angeles.
ABC's World News:
FILL-IN ANCHOR KATE SNOW: One of the Democratic Party's biggest fundraisers is out of jail on $2 million bail tonight as campaigns scramble to deal with the revelation, first reported by the Los Angeles Times, that he's been on the run for more than 15 years. While he was a fugitive, Hsu turned into a remarkably effective political money man. Our chief investigative correspondent, Brian Ross, reports.

BRIAN ROSS: Hsu turned himself in this morning in Redwood City, California, after 15 years as a fugitive from justice. He had pleaded no contest in 1991 to a count of grand theft in a fraud scheme, but never showed up for a 1992 sentencing where he faced three years in prison. But far from going into hiding, Hsu took an active role in Democratic Party politics. In the last year Hsu has helped to raise more than a million dollars for Senator Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign and he was scheduled to be one of the hosts of a major Clinton fundraiser in California next month [zoom in on invitation]. The Senator's staff now says that fundraiser has been cancelled and the $23,000 Hsu personally gave to the campaign has been given to charity. Today at the New York state fair, Senator Clinton said she had no idea Hsu was a fugitive.

HILLARY CLINTON: I was surprised like everyone else who knew him and I think he's done the right thing, turning himself in.

ROSS: Campaign watchdog groups say Senator Clinton needs to review whether Hsu used others as fronts for his own contributions, which would be illegal.

MEREDITH MCGEHEE, POLICY DIRECTOR, CAMPAIGN LEGAL CENTER: What looks fishy to some degree in this situation is when you see large amounts of money coming in from people of rather apparent modest resources.

ROSS: As successful as they have been in raising money for campaigns, Senator Clinton and her husband before her have attracted a number of questionable donors.
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center