Hillary's Mystery Money Men
In the Clintons' pursuit of power, there is no such thing as a strange bedfellow. One recently exposed inamorata was Norman Hsu, the mysterious businessman from Hong Kong who brought in $850,000 to Hillary Clinton's campaign before being unmasked as a fugitive. Her campaign dismissed Hsu as someone who'd slipped through the cracks of an otherwise unimpeachable system for vetting donors, and perhaps he was. The same cannot be said for the notorious financier Alan Quasha, whose involvement with Clinton is at least as substantial--and still under wraps.
Political junkies will recall Quasha as the controversial figure who bailed out George W. Bush's failing oil company in 1986, folding Bush into his company, Harken Energy, thus setting him on the path to a lucrative and high-profile position as an owner of the Texas Rangers baseball team, and the presidency. The persistently unprofitable Harken--many of whose board members, connected to powerful foreign interests and the intelligence community, nevertheless profited enormously--faced intense scrutiny in the early 1990s and again during Bush's first term.
Now Quasha is back--on the other side of the aisle. Operating below the radar, he entered Hillary Clinton's circle even before she declared her candidacy by quietly arranging for the hire of Clinton confidant and longtime Democratic Party money man Terry McAuliffe at one of his companies. During the interregnum between McAuliffe's chairmanship of the Democratic Party and the time he officially joined Clinton's campaign, Quasha's firm set McAuliffe up with a salary and opened a Washington office for him.
Just a few years earlier, McAuliffe had publicly criticized Bush for his financial dealings with Harken, disparaging the company's Enron-like accounting. Yet in 2005 McAuliffe accepted this cushy perch with Quasha's newly acquired investment firm, Carret Asset Management, and even brought along former Clinton White House business liaison Peter O'Keefe, who had been his senior aide at the Democratic National Committee. McAuliffe remained with the company until he became national chair of Hillary's presidential bid, and O'Keefe never left. McAuliffe's connection to Quasha has, until now, never been noted.
Another strong link between Quasha and Clinton is Quasha's business partner, Hassan Nemazee, a top Hillary fundraiser who was trotted out to defend her during the Hsu episode--in which the clothing manufacturer was unmasked as a swindler who seemingly funneled illegal contributions through "donors" of modest means.
In June, by liquidating a blind trust, the Clintons sought to distance themselves from any financial entanglements that might embarrass the campaign. Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson argued that the couple had gone "above and beyond" what was legally required "in order to avoid even the hint of a conflict of interest." But throughout their political careers, Bill and Hillary Clinton have repeatedly associated with people whose objectives seemed a million miles from "a place called Hope." Among these Alan Quasha and his menagerie--including Saudi frontmen, a foreign dictator, figures with intelligence ties and a maze of companies and offshore funds--stand out.
"That Hillary Clinton's campaign is involved with this particular cast of characters should give people pause," says John Moscow, a former Manhattan prosecutor. In the late 1980s and early '90s he led the investigation of the corrupt Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) global financial empire--a bank whose prominent shareholders included members of the Harken board. "Too many of the same names from earlier troubling circumstances suggests a lack of control over who she is dealing with," says Moscow, "or a policy of dealing with anyone who can pay."