Here’s what I want to know: Didn’t Hillary’s fundraising staff ever bother to call to thank the nice Paw family of 41 Shelbourne Avenue, Daly City, California for the almost $45,000 they donated to her presidential campaign? The Paws, big givers, have contributed over $200,000 to Democratic candidates since 2005. Hillary has been so willing this summer, often with Bill in tow, to make house calls on fundraisers at the Vineyard or in East Hampton. Why didn’t she want to drop in to share a cup of tea and a wonton or two with such generous West Coast supporters? Maybe if she or one of her staffers had paid that courtesy call, they might have been surprised the open-handed Paws, all six of them, lived in a tiny, 1280-square-foot bungalow painted an unfortunate though appropriate shade of green.
Yes, it’s back again, the Clintons and their penchant for “funny money” that somehow seems to have Chinese connections. The Paws are just part of the tangled web that surround Hong Kong mystery man and former fugitive Norman Hsu, who was responsible for $850,000 in donations to the Clinton campaign. Just a week or so ago, Hill was not planning to give back this money, but she has accomplished a quick about-face as the story grew more unseemly, and now she says that the cash will be returned. Hsu, by the way, was planning yet another fundraiser for the Clintons on September 30 in northern California. Guess that will have to be put on hold!
But, hey, the Clintons and their enthusiastic Chinese benefactors have always been something of a mystery. And a recurring one. My old pal congressman Bob Barr always maintained, way back when, that campaign finance irregularities related to Chinese contributions during the 1996 presidential campaign were the proper focus for an impeachment inquiry. And that was long before that woman, Miss Lewinsky, entered the picture. Bob told me, “Going back to the times he ran for governor, Bill Clinton always had some very deep, very odd, and very mysterious Chinese connections.”
I even have my own China tale related to the Clintons. It happened around the time of the U.N. Conference of Women in Beijing, which I attended as an American delegate. And my story is not about the Hillary who spoke so effectively about human rights at that meeting.
Just a few days before the conference, I was introduced to a woman called Nina Wang by her public relations person. Nina, a very odd little woman in her late fifties, wore a miniskirt and her hair in two stiff pigtails, reminiscent of the last dowager empress of China. She was, according to her p.r. man, the richest woman in Asia. When she heard I was attending the conference she grew very excited. She told me she wanted to give a dinner for the American delegations. Afterwards her p.r. man sidled up and explained that Nina had one burning desire: to meet Hillary Clinton. I told him I could not arrange that.
During the conference Nina did give a small dinner party, and I managed to convince a few members of the delegation from the State and Commerce Department to attend. They thought Nina was a bit weird and, when I told them about her desire to meet Hillary, they laughed and assured me it would never happen.
Quite a while later, back in New York, I ran into the p.r. man again. “I guess Nina never got to meet Hillary,” I said. He laughed, “Of course she did.” He didn’t explain how. Only later did I learn that Nina met the president and had breakfast with Hillary in the White House in 1995. After that she flew eight thousand miles from Hong Kong to Hope, Arkansas to donate $50,000 to refurbish the two-story house that was Bill Clinton’s home for the first years of his life, boosting efforts to turn it into a museum.
(By the way, Nina Wang died recently and, eccentric to the end, left her billions to her Feng Shui adviser).
This week, Newsweek has a cover story on how Hillary will govern and asks on the cover: “What Kind of Decider Will She Be?” The magazine never really answers the question, but we at least we have learned one thing about her decision-making this week. When it comes to accepting contributions from a Hong Kong fugitive or a Chinese family of modest means, micromanager Hillary Clinton, with all her experience, just put out her hand and decided not to ask some very obvious questions.