Ghosts of Campaign Finance Scandal

Media Matters has taken issue with my comments from last week on MSNBC about the story of Clinton fundraiser Norman Hsu, the fugitive “Hillraiser” who has now turned himself into authorities. Media Matters objects to my stating “this is exactly the kind of thing that could bring her down.” While I did in no way assert that it would, and I am betting Clinton wins the nomination, her greatest liability remains her and her husband's past, and a campaign finance scandal that stretched from the Lincoln Bedroom to the committee rooms of Congress.

Remember Johnny Chung? Clinton returned the $23,000 from Hsu, but not the $96,000 he collected from others for her, and the campaign said it had no way of knowing about the warrant for his arrest. The Washington Post reports today that another Clinton bundler — Sant Chatwal — has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Clinton while the IRS, the New York state government and the government in India have been after him for millions in unpaid taxes and he has been charged with bank fraud. The Clintons have a long friendship with Chatwal — both attended on of his son’s weddings in 2002 and Bill Clinton attended another son’s wedding in 2006.

While Sen. Barack Obama also had to return Hsu money and donations from Antoin “Tony” Rezko, his friend who was indicted in a federal corruption case, this is not the same vulnerability for him that it is for Clinton. These stories may be the last of it, and Clinton needs to make them go away. A new likeability poll puts Edwards at the top among the party’s voters, followed by Obama and Clinton at the bottom. Her currency with voters remains her electability. And she knows that after losing two elections to George W. Bush they thought they should have won, Democrats are not ready to hand Republicans the gift of a tainted nominee.

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