He was one of Hillary Clinton's "Hillraisers," meaning he's raised more than $100K for her presidential campaign.
Here's the list of politicians he's given money to.
But due to his shady past and criminal record -- having pleaded "no contest" to grand theft 15 years ago and then fled before he was sentenced -- Dems are now trying to distance themselves from him. And the politician most affected by Hsu's financial dealings is Hillary Clinton.
From the Los Angeles Times:
Confronted with new evidence that it had ignored warnings about fundraiser Norman Hsu, Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign abruptly announced late today that it was returning $850,000 from 260 donors associated with Hsu.
The announcement was made five minutes after the Los Angeles Times asked Clinton officials to respond to mid-June campaign e-mails the newspaper obtained that dismissed concerns about Hsu and his business practices.
"I can tell you with 100 [sic] certainty that Norman Hsu is NOT involved in a ponzi scheme," wrote Samantha Wolf, who had the title West Coast finance director for the campaign. She has since left the campaign. "He is COMPLETELY legit." She wrote the e-mail in June to a party official who was asking questions about Hsu and his reputation in the financial world.
Hsu was a well-connected fellow who even sits on the board of NYC's New School.
Consequently, he did introduce Obama to a colleague of his, Mark Gorenberg, who is now a member of Obama's National Finance Committee, and hosted a 2005 fundraiser for Obama.
The Obama campaign is now looking into all donations secured by Mr. Hsu.
From the Washington Post:
Obama's campaign, which has donated to charity $7,000 in direct donations that Hsu made to Hopefund and his Senate campaign committee, confirmed last night that Hsu hosted a small event for the PAC in March 2005 in Los Angeles.
"We don't know how much that event raised, but we have received an estimated $19,000 from people who were associated with Hsu in published reports, all prior to Obama becoming a presidential candidate," spokesman Bill Burton said.
"We are in the process of sending these people letters to check the validity of their contributions. When Obama entered the presidential race, Hsu had decided to support Senator Clinton and bundle for her campaign," Burton said.
Obama announced Thursday that he plans to introduce legislation to require congressional and presidential candidates to disclose the identities of bundlers and the amounts they raise.
From The New York Times:
Since Mr. Hsu’s fall from grace, efforts to learn more about the nature of his business and the source of his wealth have led mostly to dead ends.
On campaign finance disclosure forms, he listed his employer as one of a half-dozen companies, some of them with names that seemed to change with each retelling. On some forms, the company was Components Limited or Next Components or Next Consultants. Other times it was Next Limited or Consultants Limited. And his title was different from one form to the next, sometimes appearing as president or managing director, other times as consultant, supplier or partner.
Hsu contends that he gives money to Democratic causes because of a strong feeling of appreciation for what America has provided him.
The Manhattan office addresses he listed appeared to be little more than mail drops, and his neighbors in the buildings said he rarely showed up and seemed to conduct no business there
From the Wall Street Journal:
I have been blessed by what this country has given me and have tried to give back in many ways," Mr. Hsu said in an email to a Wall Street Journal reporter earlier this week. "One way has been through political contributions to candidates and causes I believe in. I have never asked for anything in return. I've asked friends and colleagues of mine to give money out of their own pockets and sometimes they have agreed," he added
Some of the "friends and colleagues" he has brought on board have been members of the Paw family, who live in this modest Daly City house located by the San Francisco airport.
The Paw family have donated more than $200k over the past three years.
From the Los Angeles Times:
Records show that Hsu has emerged as one of the Democrats' most successful "bundlers," rounding up groups of contributors and packaging their checks together before delivering the funds to campaign officials. Individuals can give a total of $4,600 to a single candidate during an election cycle, $2,300 for the primaries and $2,300 for the general election.
One example of the kind of first-time donors Hsu has worked with is the Paw family of Daly City, Calif., which is headed by William Paw, a mail carrier, and his wife, Alice, who is listed as a homemaker.
The Paws -- seven adults, most of whom live together in a small house near San Francisco International Airport -- apparently had never donated to national candidates until 2004. Over a three-year period, they gave $213,000, including $55,000 to Clinton and $14,000 to candidates for state-level offices in New York.
The family includes a son, Winkle Paw, who Barcella said was in business with Hsu. Another son works for a Bay Area school board, while one daughter works for a hospital and another for a computer company.
One question being raised is whether or not Hsu was funneling money through his business to employees like Paw, so that they could donate those funds to the campaign.
From The New York Times:
The financial records for Components Ltd. show that Mr. Su’s wife, Lelawattie Su, wired $100,000 to the company in May 2003, and that Mr. Hsu used that money to wire $109,500 the next day to a woman in California. On another occasion, Mr. Paw wired $20,000 to Components Ltd., and Mr. Hsu immediately wired $30,000 to another company whose location could not be determined.
In roughly that same period, Components Ltd. issued three checks to Mr. Paw totaling about $16,000, and checks and wire transfers totaling more than $100,000 to eight other people, including a worker at a rehabilitation center for the handicapped, a housewife, a nurse, a real estate developer, a plastics company executive and his wife, and a clothing shop manager.
Mr. Hsu later bundled campaign contributions from all of those people, including Mr. Paw and six members of his family, along with Mr. and Mrs. Su. The Paws and Sus together contributed more than $400,000 since 2004 to Democrats across the country, usually in tandem with Mr. Hsu.
Another question about Mr. Hsu is why? Why was a man with no visible means of support moving money around to give to politicians? Was he trying to curry some sort of favor? Just a really patriotic guy?
As the saying goes... follow the money.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out.