The Los Angeles Times ran an eyebrow-raising story this morning about how Hillary Clinton is raising money from a highly unlikely source: New York’s Chinatown.
"Dishwashers, waiters and others whose jobs and dilapidated home addresses seem to make them unpromising targets for political fundraisers are pouring $1,000 and $2,000 contributions into Clinton’s campaign treasury," the paper reports. "In April, a single fundraiser in an area long known for its gritty urban poverty yielded a whopping $380,000."
According to the article, powerful Chinese neighborhood associations pushed residents to donate to the Clinton camp. The source of many of these donations remains a mystery.
The Times examined the cases of more than 150 donors who provided checks to Clinton after fundraising events geared to the Chinese community. One-third of those donors could not be found using property, telephone or business records. Most have not registered to vote, according to public records.
Several dozen were described in financial reports as holding jobs — including dishwasher, server or chef–that would normally make it difficult to donate amounts ranging from $500 to the legal maximum of $2,300 per election.
The Clinton campaign’s response hardly puts the matter to rest. "In this instance, our own compliance process flagged a number of questionable donations and took the appropriate steps to be sure they were legally given," said Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson. "In cases where we couldn’t confirm that, the money was returned."
The Edwards campaign was swift to react. "Clinton campaign contributions are raising eyebrows again," said Edward campaign manager David Bonior. "Many of their donors are not even registered to vote, and at least one denied even making any contribution at all."
The article–and the Clinton reaction–raises more questions than answers. Did officials in Chinatown invent the names and identities of campaign donors? If so, why? How involved was Chung Seto, Clinton’s liaison to the Asian community and a former executive director of the New York State Democratic Party? How did the Clinton campaign verify the source of these donations? How many potentially illegal donations were eventually returned?