Hsu's Lawyer Responds to WSJ's Smear Attempt on Hillary and Her Contributors

The Wall St. Journal has me seriously rethinking my subscription. Check out this article by Brody Mullins and its baseless attempt to smear Hillary Clinton's Asian contributors.

Shorter version: An American family of Chinese descent in San Francisco, the Paws, contributed to Hillary around the same time as one of her big contributors, Norman Hsu, who now lives in New York.

Not only is there nothing wrong with that as big fund-raisers often ask people to make contributions around the same time they are contributing, but the Journal admits:

There is no public record or indication Mr. Hsu reimbursed the Paw family for their political contributions. (my emphasis.)

Not only that, but The Journal acknowledges the Paw family and Norman Hsu gave to other candidates as well. If you check campaign records, you will see Mr. Hsu has donated to Barack Obama, John Kerry and Ted Kennedy, and that the Paw family has contributed thousands to an Obama's PAC.

Plus, the Journal insisted on running the piece in the face of factual denials from all involved.

This is a hurtful, non-story with a smear factor and the Journal should be taken to task for publishing it.

But enough of my interpretation. Here is the statement from well-respected, prominent lawyer Lawrence Barcella,who is representing Norman Hsu.

Statement Below:

Statement by Larry Barcella

Statements by Norman Hsu and Winkle Paw To WSJ Yesterday
August 28, 2007

Yesterday, Norman Hsu, Winkle Paw and I told the WSJ that there was nothing at all inappropriate about the contributions they had made – the WSJ chose to run the story anyway, knowing the implication they were making is untrue. Norman Hsu has been a longtime fundraiser for democratic causes and candidates. Like every fundraiser, he asks friends, colleagues and others to support the causes and candidates he supports. That is what every fundraiser in America for any cause does – political or non-profit – does. And, in none of these instances, to address the WSJ innuendo, has Mr. Hsu reimbursed them for their contributions.

The WSJ reporter contacted Norman late last week. Norman asked me to respond to them on his behalf. I made several attempts to reach the reporter, none of which were returned until yesterday (Monday) afternoon. I told the reporter and his editor that I had reviewed the Paw’s financial records, which clearly demonstrated that they easily had the financial wherewithal to make any level of contributions.

The reporter said in our first contact that he wanted to finish the story 'by the end of August.” At 6:30pm, he suddenly emailed that his editors had accelerated the story because they were worried about competition from the Washington Post and the NYT. I told them no other news organization had made contact with Norman, the Paws or me, so they had time to make sure their story was right.

I asked the reporter, in the presence of his editor, if I got permission to let them see the Paws’ financial information, which shows their resources, would they not run the story? His editor responded 3 times that they were running the story anyway.

I told both the reporter and his editor that it was clear that they were more interested in writing their story than the facts, that they were making no attempt to understand Asian-American culture, and that they were unfairly invading the privacy of the Paws and Norman (all of which makes the story's suggesting that the WSJ didn't understand my comment – that if Norman and the Paw’s last name was Smith or Jones, this story would not be written – completely disingenuous).

Perhaps more surprising, the reporter also elected to quote only selectively from the email statements that Norman, Winkle Paw and I sent.

I've always had great relations with the press throughout my career...in fact, my father was a reporter...and I deeply value the media. This incident, however, is deeply troubling, as is clearly reflects a rush to print a story that smears two Asian-American families who wished nothing more than to privately give back some of what they felt America has given them by contributing to political candidates in whose values they believed

As to the photo of the Paws' house, now being passed around the internet, thanks to Mr. Mullins, I did a quick public records check and found they have owned the house since (at least)1989 when the sales price was $260,000 and its assessed value was $293,000.

Update: 8/29 here. Also, if you missed Media Matter's take on the yesterday's WSJ article, it's here and well worth a read.

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    I dunno, it seems like an interesting pattern (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by jerry on Tue Aug 28, 2007 at 12:19:46 PM EST
    I don't know how their story ranks in terms of journalistic efforts, but they way they have portrayed it, I have to agree that it seems fishy....

    I don't see any assertions of "facts" (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by Deconstructionist on Tue Aug 28, 2007 at 12:26:30 PM EST
    actually in the article that any of the subjects or the lawyer deny.

      I'd say the Paw's have a reasonable expectation that a follow-up story will give equal billing to their proof the contributions were made with their personal funds and that they were not directly or indirectly reimbursed by Hsu.

      Do they have a reasonable expectation that their making publicly recorded donations to a presidential campaign will not be reported in the public press?

      My only point of possible concernt is whether this is the most suspicious example of possible straw man contributions and whether the FEC reports of all candidates are being equally scrutinized.


    I haven't denied being considered for Atty Gen (none / 0) (#13)
    by eLadinMO on Tue Aug 28, 2007 at 01:53:25 PM EST
    ...so one could reason, using your logic, that I am suspiciously being considered to replace Gonzales.

    Don't hold your breath waiting for that follow-up story, either. No, they can't reasonably expect that public records will remain so. However, expecting fair treatment by a national publication isn't only expected, to some degree it's also protected by specific law. The WSJ apparently rushed this piece out before anybody else could break the non-news story.


    What law (none / 0) (#16)
    by Deconstructionist on Tue Aug 28, 2007 at 02:56:07 PM EST
     protects one from the disclosure of facts which cast suspicion on one's public activities?

      Even assuming anyone truly believes that "fairness" can be expected, what is "unfair" about a report that the family members donated a very large amount of money?

       If this was a white family of very modest means  in Texas who suddenly decided to become politically active by donating tens of thousands of dollars in a very short period of time to Tom Delay and it just so happened, purely coincidentally mind you, that the wealthy preacher at the First Assembly of the Holy Rollers for Jesus had previously used their address as a contact point and made his own sizeable donations at the very same times, would you cty fould if the a newspaper published that information?

       I suspect many here would be unrestrained in pointing out all the obvious suspicions.


    the law is (none / 0) (#29)
    by scribe on Tue Aug 28, 2007 at 05:08:12 PM EST
    the tort of false light invasion of privacy.  Restatement, 2d, Torts, Sec. 652E:

    One who gives publicity to a matter concerning another that places the other before the public in a false light is subject to liability to the other for invasion of his privacy if:
    (a) the false light in which the other was placed would be highliy offensive to a reasonable person, and
    (b) the actor had knowledge of or acted in reckless disregard as to the falsity of the publicized matter and the false light in which the other would be placed.
    It's a close call whether the putative plaintiffs have a case - I would want to speculate one way or the other.

    Nope (none / 0) (#30)
    by Deconstructionist on Tue Aug 28, 2007 at 05:15:02 PM EST
    (a) the false light in which the other was placed would be highliy offensive to a reasonable person, and
    (b) the actor had knowledge of or acted in reckless disregard as to the falsity of the publicized matter and the false light in which the other would be placed.

     Ignoring the fact that all the disclosures are from PUBLIC records, what in the article is false?

      I'll "speculate" that not only do they have no case but they would be incredibly foolish to bring an action requiring them to go under oath and give  depositions, answer interrogatories and produce documents.

       If they think their "privacy" has been invaded now, they have no idea what would be in store for them.


    Some one critized Clinton (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by Jgarza on Tue Aug 28, 2007 at 01:05:57 PM EST
    Therefore it was a personal attack.  This line is really getting old.  

    It's highly doubtful that Clinton or her campaign (none / 0) (#9)
    by Geekesque on Tue Aug 28, 2007 at 01:14:02 PM EST
    knew of anything improper.

    However, the such large $$'s being donated by a mailman and proprietor of a gift shop indicate that someone is spreading some money around.  It could be one of their children or a family friend instead of being Hsu himself.


    The Exception annd the Direction (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by koshembos on Tue Aug 28, 2007 at 02:40:30 PM EST
    Misrepresentation is quite common in the media. Typically the Friedmans, Kleins and Broders do it not maliciously but rather a deeply ingrained stupidity. One can, with some research, show that these characters, actually caricatures is a better noun, have done so in the pre-Bush past.

    The WSJ article mentioned in the post, haven't read it, seems to be different. It's a specific attempt to malign Asian American and Hillary Clinton. This is Limbaugh, Savage and the other hoodlums pretending to be decent and honorable guys. This is a malicious media not a clueless media.

    what "misrepresentation" (none / 0) (#18)
    by Deconstructionist on Tue Aug 28, 2007 at 03:25:55 PM EST
     do you identify in the story you haven't read?

      How is reporting that this Asian American family donated a REMARKABLY large amount of money an attempt to malign all Asian Americans? If next week Newsday publishes a report that the Stromboli family  donated 50 large to Giuiliani  despite a very modest lifestyle and is known to have a connection to another Italian American  seeking to become top tier Giuliani fiundraiswer will that be dismissed as an attempt to mailgn all Italian Americans and Giuliani?



    Didn't Rupert Murdoch just acquire (none / 0) (#1)
    by oculus on Tue Aug 28, 2007 at 11:57:24 AM EST
    the WSJ?  He isn't fulfilling the prophecy that he would control the paper's content.

    The Foxification has begun. (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by Molly Bloom on Tue Aug 28, 2007 at 12:15:41 PM EST
    By the evil Clinton donor, i.e. (none / 0) (#12)
    by oculus on Tue Aug 28, 2007 at 01:41:00 PM EST
    none other than Rupert?

    There are a couple of fishy details: (none / 0) (#2)
    by Geekesque on Tue Aug 28, 2007 at 12:03:01 PM EST
    1.  The sums donated by the Paw family are enormous when compared to their overall financial status.  The senior Mr. Paw is a mailman.

    2.  Hsu listed their address as his own at one point.  That's odd.

    American business, meet (none / 0) (#6)
    by scribe on Tue Aug 28, 2007 at 12:30:18 PM EST
    the Murdochized WSJ - you can now be sure that even the stock quotes can be recast to meet Rupe's politics.

    Were I elected the next President, one of the "A" items on the first day in office would be to rebuild the Antitrust division, for the sole purpose of breaking up Murdoch's empire.  He's far more dangerous to the Constitution than Rockefeller Senior and Standard Oil, for all their predatory behavior, ever were.

    Murdoch is a Hillary supporter. eom (none / 0) (#7)
    by Geekesque on Tue Aug 28, 2007 at 12:31:08 PM EST
    I know that, but it's not something he could (none / 0) (#11)
    by scribe on Tue Aug 28, 2007 at 01:36:53 PM EST
    have avoided.  Anyone with eyes has been able to see for years that, barring radical changes between now and 11/08, it's highly likely the candidate denominated as a Democrat will win the WH next year.  Rupe is hedging his bets in favor of the one he thinks is "least bad" for his interests by throwing a lot of weight early (like, months ago) behind GoldwaterGirl.  

    He's covered the other side of the coin by (a) keeping Rudy Cue Ball's best bud Ailes atop FauxNoise and (b) (for the rest of the Rethugs) just having FauxNoise as a reliable, one-sided arm of the Repug propaganda machine.  

    This is the way a lot of prominent businesspeople think and act vis-a-vis politicians.  They give to both sides, more to keep the pols off their backs and gain some access when they need something fixed or smoothed out (everything from a zoning variance on up) than out of partisan loyalty.  

    Currently active businesspeople have interests diverging from the trustees (and trust fund kids) who control/dole out winger welfare.  The businesspeople (by and large) want to be left alone by government to run their businesses.  The trustees and trust fund kids think they know better for everyone else, and want to prove it.  

    I think if anyone would really do a research project on the sources of wingnut welfare, I'd hazard a couple bucks saying that a lot of it comes from foundations and trusts established by now-dead (or acting that way) fogies who had made some money, for their kids, the ones who never made anything on their own.

    IIRC, The Olin Foundation (now terminated/dissolved, because the wingers in charge "knew" their kids would be/already were more liberal than they could countenance - at least if you factored in the kids getting their hands on the money) seems like a good example of a source of winger welfare.  The people running the foundation were not the original makers-of-the-wealth but were a generation or two downstream.  Ditto someone like Scaife - Treasury Secretary Mellon made the family money, um, before the Depression.

    So, in supporting GoldwaterGirl, Murdoch is guarding against the possibility of (a more progressive candidate, like) Edwards coming along and really taking on Murdoch with the full power of the government backing up a reform agenda.


    YUP! (none / 0) (#43)
    by aahpat on Tue Aug 28, 2007 at 11:01:32 PM EST
    It could be lot of things (none / 0) (#10)
    by Deconstructionist on Tue Aug 28, 2007 at 01:20:27 PM EST
      The questions are  whether the story is accurate and newsworthy and,  if so,  whether it is wrong or even unfair to publish stories that raise questions of misconduct without providing proof.

      My thought is that if you choose to donate money to a campaign you open yourself to scrutiny from a free press.

    That is a very modest house. (none / 0) (#14)
    by jimakaPPJ on Tue Aug 28, 2007 at 02:19:24 PM EST
    How much have the Paws contributed, and to who???

    That is the question that needs answering.

    200k+ since 2004, all to Dem candidates. (none / 0) (#22)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Tue Aug 28, 2007 at 04:25:35 PM EST
    Sorry, since 2005. (none / 0) (#23)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Tue Aug 28, 2007 at 04:27:26 PM EST
    In all, the six Paws have donated a total of $200,000 to Democratic candidates since 2005, election records show.

    Its no wonder their house is so modest. (none / 0) (#25)
    by oculus on Tue Aug 28, 2007 at 04:50:15 PM EST
    The same thought occurred to me. (none / 0) (#26)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Tue Aug 28, 2007 at 04:53:44 PM EST
    Supposedly the (adult, with jobs) kids live there too. I guess that's how the 270k refi is getting paid.

    What a wonderful concept. Adult kids w/jobs. (none / 0) (#27)
    by oculus on Tue Aug 28, 2007 at 04:56:37 PM EST
    Well they are obviously shrewd money managers (none / 0) (#28)
    by Deconstructionist on Tue Aug 28, 2007 at 04:59:44 PM EST
    as refinancing a home for  at 64 years old and assuming a new $270,000 mortgage  to get some cash to give to give to whomever your friend tells you to give it to makes perfect sense. (I hope they got a fixed rate.)

    fwiw, Zillow values the house at about (none / 0) (#31)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Tue Aug 28, 2007 at 05:15:33 PM EST

    You don't suppose it's possible that it's just a big shell game - 200k+ in polical donations, 270k refi to pay for the donations, wealthy friend in NYC pays off the refi for you...?


    There Would Be Records (none / 0) (#32)
    by squeaky on Tue Aug 28, 2007 at 05:27:38 PM EST
    Besides the GOP has already mastered much more complex scams. Abramof, Ney, Delay, Cunningham, Wilkes, Scanlon and the list goes on and on. It is no wonder that the WSJ is salivating, on scanty evidence, for a Democratic fundraising scam.

    Indeed, there would be records, (none / 0) (#33)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Tue Aug 28, 2007 at 05:37:13 PM EST
    and there are - of the first two steps at least.

    Oh, btw, the WSJ, NYT, WaPo, et al, are likely salivating for any political scams. This may well have just happened to hit first.


    WSJ Is Foxified (none / 0) (#35)
    by squeaky on Tue Aug 28, 2007 at 05:47:07 PM EST
    Murderoch has never been able to keep his word. Although, the jury is still out. This rush to print this story has FOXian forboding IMO.

    Well, that settles it for me. (none / 0) (#36)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Tue Aug 28, 2007 at 05:50:35 PM EST
    Doesn't compute with his giving muchas $$ (none / 0) (#37)
    by oculus on Tue Aug 28, 2007 at 05:53:27 PM EST
    to Hillary Clinton's campaign.

    I Think it Computes (none / 0) (#38)
    by squeaky on Tue Aug 28, 2007 at 05:58:16 PM EST
    See scribe's comment above.

    Back in the day, rumor had it that (none / 0) (#17)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Tue Aug 28, 2007 at 03:13:08 PM EST
    one of the big talent agencies in town would give its employees a "bonus" that the agency made very clear was then to be donated by the employee to the agency's preferred political candidate.

    I wonder just how widespread this sort of thing really is.

    Very common in southern (none / 0) (#19)
    by jimakaPPJ on Tue Aug 28, 2007 at 03:27:58 PM EST
    politics for years and years.

    My guess very common in Gollywood.


    It is undoubtedly very common (none / 0) (#20)
    by Deconstructionist on Tue Aug 28, 2007 at 03:40:04 PM EST
      and we probably only see the tip of the iceberg because most are clever enough not to do it in a presidential campaign in a manner bound to attract attention  upon even a cursory examination of FEC records.

    It is interesting that the easily googled (none / 0) (#21)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Tue Aug 28, 2007 at 04:21:00 PM EST
    San Fransisco, CA, residents Winkle Paw and his sister Marina contributed to aLos Angeles mayoral candidate.

    And also to Andrew Cuomo, running for NY State Attny Gen'l.

    And Tennessee congressional candidate Tyson Pratcher.

    I do suppose Winkle, apparently an investment banker, and his sister Marina, apparently an exec of some type, would have some cash to burn.

    They must be true believers.

    Hmm (none / 0) (#24)
    by jarober on Tue Aug 28, 2007 at 04:47:03 PM EST
    "It isn't obvious how the Paw family is able to afford such political largess. Records show they own a gift shop and live in a 1,280-square-foot house that they recently refinanced for $270,000. William Paw, the 64-year-old head of the household, is a mail carrier with the U.S. Postal Service who earns about $49,000 a year, according to a union representative. Alice Paw, also 64, is a homemaker. The couple's grown children have jobs ranging from account manager at a software company to "attendance liaison" at a local public high school. One is listed on campaign records as an executive at a mutual fund."

    As someone up-thread noted, a similarly modest Texas family coming up with $45k for a Republican candidate would have the left going bonkers.  

    This is yet another case of "whose ox is being gored".

    Hsu / Paw and Hillary (none / 0) (#34)
    by truth2pwr on Tue Aug 28, 2007 at 05:40:56 PM EST
    "If you check campaign records, you will see Mr. Hsu has donated to Barack Obama . . . and that the Paw family has contributed thousands to Obama."

    Jeralyn, what is the source and cite for the above statement.

    I believe Winkle donated to Obama's (none / 0) (#39)
    by Geekesque on Tue Aug 28, 2007 at 05:59:27 PM EST

    Thank's for the reply, but (none / 0) (#41)
    by truth2pwr on Tue Aug 28, 2007 at 07:06:36 PM EST
    What is your source and cite?

    Source is (none / 0) (#45)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Aug 28, 2007 at 11:54:20 PM EST

    Norman Hsu

       Barack Obama

        John Kerry

        Ted Kennedy

    Winkle Family:

       Winkle Paw:

        Winkle Paw

        Marina Paw

    for the Hope Fund Pac (none / 0) (#46)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 12:02:23 AM EST
    go here and type in Hope. It comes up with "affiliate of Barack Obama."

    Of course I wonder (none / 0) (#40)
    by Wile ECoyote on Tue Aug 28, 2007 at 06:56:18 PM EST
    who is paying for the well respected, prominent lawyer.

    The Paw family (none / 0) (#44)
    by Kewalo on Tue Aug 28, 2007 at 11:06:07 PM EST
    It seems to me that nobody here has had much to do with Asians.

    I worked in direct sales in Hawaii. Believe me you have no idea how frugal Asian families are and there is no way of telling how much is in  their bank account by the way their home looks from the outside. It was always the Asian families that wrote out a check and never needed to use credit. AND I've had times I went into a home that looked shabby from the outside that was just beautiful inside.

    I totally agree with Mr. Barcella when he says that the WSJ had made on effort to understand Asian-American culture and I think that's true of some of the posters here too.

    "Frugal" (none / 0) (#47)
    by Deconstructionist on Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 06:57:56 AM EST
      people do not borrow $270,000 against the equity in their home (especially when they are 64 years old civil service workers with a very modest income) in the absence of a huge crisis.