Clinton campaign fundraising

2007-10-22 11:02:04.0 Administrator2: Hello and welcome to the Politics Chat! We're here live with Scott Kraft, Peter Nicholas, Tom Hamburger and Johanna Neuman!

2007-10-22 11:02:39.0 Administrator2: Welcome Scott, Peter, Tom, and Johanna!

2007-10-22 11:03:16.0 Administrator2: Feel free to submit your questions now!

2007-10-22 11:03:18.0 Tom Hamburger: glad to be here

2007-10-22 11:03:21.0 Scott Kraft: Tom and Peter: You've been covering the fundraising of presidential campaigns for some months now. Tell us about the latest story you uncovered on Hillary Clinton's efforts in Chinatown in New York.

2007-10-22 11:05:26.0 Administrator2: Welcome folks! Please feel free to submit your questions/comments on the Clinton fundraising machine.

2007-10-22 11:06:50.0 Peter Nicholas: Our story looked at a slice of donors to Sen. Clinton's campaign who are participating in the American political process in ways we haven't seen before. Many of these donors are immigrants from Fujian Province in China and are not eligible to vote, yet are significant donors to her presidential campaign.

2007-10-22 11:07:26.0 Johanna Neuman: So how did you two discover this story?

2007-10-22 11:08:56.0 Tom Hamburger: I was one of the reporters covering the story of alleged swindler Norman Hsu and his role in the Clinton campaign. In the course of researching that story we came across this historic fundraising from the Chinese American population in New York

2007-10-22 11:09:05.0 Johanna Neuman: Peter and Tom, What I'm wondering is what these donors expect or hope that Hillary Clinton will do for them if she is elected.

2007-10-22 11:10:05.0 Administrator2: Welcome to the chat! Please feel free to submit your questions or comments now.

2007-10-22 11:11:48.0 Peter Nicholas: Many of these donors mentioned immigration as an important reason for their support. They hope that if she is elected president she will help reunite families and smooth the path to citizenship. Others mentioned that they valued the chance to meet and be photographed with Sen. Clinton. She is a popular figure in this community and draws even more enthusiastic attention in some respects than her husband.

2007-10-22 11:12:15.0 Administrator2: Is it clear why these donors chose Senator Clinton among all possible candidates? Is that directly related to Hsu?

2007-10-22 11:12:21.0 Scott Kraft: is there anything illegal about doing that?

2007-10-22 11:13:31.0 Tom Hamburger: Hillary Clinton remember is their senator and she has cultivated this community. In addition, as Peter just mentioned, she is quite popular and they look to her for help with immigration concerns

2007-10-22 11:14:34.0 Tom Hamburger: It is legal for people with green cards who have permanent residence status to donate to politifcians, even though they may not be citizens. People in this category cannot vote, however.

2007-10-22 11:15:33.0 jiminit: Your story mentions that many felt pressure to donate. Where did that pressure come from?

2007-10-22 11:16:31.0 Tom Hamburger: We believe that most of the donations that emanated from New York's Chinatown community were not related to Norman Hsu. There was some overlap, but most donors we interviewed told us they did not know Hsu

2007-10-22 11:18:59.0 Peter Nicholas: Some donors we spoke to said they felt encouraged to donate by their neighborhood associations. They said they gave more out of a sense of obligation to the broader Chinese community, in some cases, than out of a devotion to her presidential campaign.

2007-10-22 11:19:23.0 Administrator2: Do any of the other presidential candidates have such a strong backing from a particular immigrant population? How unusual is that?

2007-10-22 11:23:21.0 Tom Hamburger: New and prosperous immigrant groups are increasingly being cultivated by campaigns. What made this particular group stand out is that so many donors lived in relatively modest neighborhoods and some held jobs that seemed to make $1,000 donations unlikely. In addition, we found it difficult to locate donors listed at the addresses provided by the Federal Election Commission.

2007-10-22 11:24:43.0 Pabitra: What was the basis for your writer's choice to portray Chung Seto as an "outsider" "immigrant" giving money rather than an American acitivist who has been working on political campaigns in the US and has served as the Communications Director for a former Labor Secretary?

2007-10-22 11:25:30.0 Tom Hamburger: Chung Seto was also the executive director of the state Democratic P

2007-10-22 11:25:46.0 Tom Hamburger: and has been active in New York and national politics for years.

2007-10-22 11:28:28.0 ylee: Earlier comment whether some donors were related to Norman Hsu pointed to the problem with this article. By focusing on Chinese american donors, the public gets the perception this is a Chinese phenomenon. If these Chinese American donors felt obligated or pressured to give, why not draw the parallals between union workers feeling pressured to donate or precinct walk for candidates. Or employees at Fortune 500 firms whose CEOs asked them to get involved for the interest of protecting their firm or business interest?

2007-10-22 11:30:50.0 Tom Hamburger: Ylee's is an excellent comment. It speaks to something that we are sensitive to. We understand that there are other groups that have been pressured to donate, and we have reported on those instances and believe there is more reporting to be done in this area.

2007-10-22 11:31:13.0 Scott Kraft: Actually, that's a good point. We have written frequently about other groups where pressure to donate is a factor -- unions, as you say, but also universities and businesses.

2007-10-22 11:31:15.0 Christine Chen: Many Asian immigrant families save a long time, even when they have limited means. They have been able to send their kids to college, and now as an emerging community they are now learning to get civically involved. It is unfair to assume that they cannot afford to give.

2007-10-22 11:33:41.0 Administrator2: Welcome to the Politics Chat! Feel free to submit your questions or comments for Scott, Tom, and Peter.

2007-10-22 11:33:52.0 Peter Nicholas: One thing that struck us in reporting the story was that contributions from this community have not occurred before to this degree. When John Kerry ran for president in 2004, he collected a fraction of the donations that Sen. Clinton has taken in to date.

2007-10-22 11:34:56.0 vshu: While many Asian Americans lead very modest lives, they will give signicant amounts of money to causes they support, including churches, community organizations and schools. It is not unusual to see the children of garment factory restaurant workers attending Ivy League and other major, private universities.

2007-10-22 11:36:25.0 Tom Hamburger: As both Christine and Vshu have said thse are communities known for hard work and saving. Yet some of the donors we spoke to said that donating $500 to $1,000 stretched their budgets.

2007-10-22 11:36:58.0 Johanna Neuman: Do you think the Clinton campaign should do more to vet their contributors?

2007-10-22 11:39:47.0 Tom Hamburger: The Clinton campaign has had to refund some donations deemed inappropriate. But this is a problem facing all major campaigns because of the unprecedented pressure to raise funds. The Clinton campaign has vetting procedures in place that go beyond the minimum standards used by most campaigns.

2007-10-22 11:39:56.0 Christine Chen: Many of us in the Asian American community always believed that it would take over a decade to get over the negative impact of the 1996 campaign finance controversy. For the longest time Asians were rarely outreached to as voters. They were not encouraged to participate in the elections. I would correlate it to the earlier years when the political parties and candidates rarely addressed the concerns of the younger generation. But we have seen increases in their participation because they are not being courted and resources in educating them about the process has been provided. This year we have seen not only Clinton, but also Guiliani, Edwards and Obama make efforts to outreach to the Asian community. Also, through the last decade more Asians have run for local office. This has helped increase and encourage more Asians to participate as donors and as voters.

2007-10-22 11:40:14.0 Christine Chen: Correction: The younger generation is now being courted

2007-10-22 11:42:33.0 Scott Kraft: To Vshu and Christine's questions, it's true that immigrants of modest means do spend large amounts of money for private school tuition and the like. But spending large amounts on political campaigns suggests that the donors believe they're going to get something from it that it's unlikely they'll get.

2007-10-22 11:44:39.0 ylee: it is also unfair to assume hard working low wage workers wouldn't have the legit means to write political checks. A quick review of San Francisco Bay area's booming housing market will show most $800,000 plus homes are bought by the dish washers, hotel workers who work hard and pull their resources together. Immigration, specifically family reunification has been a top concern for many in the community. If they must pay thousands of dollars to the government on naturalization petitions, it is perfectly understandable that they want to invest in individuals or causes that will give them hope there is a fair family reunification policy in place for them .

2007-10-22 11:44:40.0 Chester: Hello

2007-10-22 11:44:44.0 Administrator2: Hi and welcome, Chester!

2007-10-22 11:46:22.0 Peter Nicholas: Sen. Clinton's campaign has talked about its fund-raising prowess. It's a newspaper's responsibility to look deeper into the source of these funds. It's not our intent to hurt or offend any constituency.

2007-10-22 11:47:26.0 Administrator2: We're here with Peter Nicholas and Tom Hamburger; please feel free to submit your questions on political fundraising!

2007-10-22 11:47:39.0 TL: Scott, your earlier comment to Christine talks about spending large amounts of money on poltical campaigns suggests donors believe they are going to get something in return. What other reason would someone donate?

2007-10-22 11:48:54.0 Pabitra: It's not about hurting of offending as much as it is about jumping on a bandwagon without looking at responsible reporting. How do you think your article along with the line of articles from major papers about Asian American donors will influence public perception of Asian American involvement in our political process? How do you think it will affect the work that has been done to bring Asian American's into the political process? Do you think that the negative press on campaign contributions rather than any mainstream articles about positive participate in the American political process will takes away from seeing Asian American's as Americans who can contribute to campaigns, who can run for office, who can vote?

2007-10-22 11:49:50.0 vshu: First - the issue of stretching their budgets to donate -- The nature of immigrants is such that they will stretch and pull and do whatever is needed to ensure the security of their families. Second -- to Scott Kraft's assumption they will "get something from it that it's unliely they'll get" -- many people who donate to campaigns will not get what they want. What new donors to get immediatelyu, however, is a sense of political empowerment and a sense of pride of being able to take part in the political process. The same immigrants who are scrutinized are probably some of the most patriotic Americans out there.

2007-10-22 11:50:22.0 Tom Hamburger: People donate to campaigns for a variety of reasons. In some cases, includng some of the donors we spoke with, they give because someone asked them to. Others give because they are looking for something specific from a candidate. Some because they want to support a candidate for the most idealistic of reasons.

2007-10-22 11:51:26.0 vshu: quick edit on my recent post -- when I wrote "most people who donate," I meant people in general and not just Asian Americans.

2007-10-22 11:51:49.0 Tom Hamburger: Vshu, thanks for your comment.

2007-10-22 11:51:58.0 Administrator2: Hi folks, we'll need to wrap up in a few minutes, so please send your final questions/comments for Peter and Tom now.

2007-10-22 11:52:20.0 Diana Swartz: Scott Kraft had to leave the chat to attend to his duties as National Editor.

2007-10-22 11:53:07.0 Chester: When are you going to report the acheivements of Asian Pacific Americans; ter0

2007-10-22 11:53:55.0 TL: The issue of increasing political involvement and campaign contributions is something the API community is working hard to improve. Your 10/19 article keeps the Norman Hsu issue alive, potentially impacting our community's ability to be heard. In the spirit of balanced reporting, where are the community leaders in your article?

2007-10-22 11:54:17.0 Tom Hamburger: We are interested in covering the developments of ethnic communities. If you have specific ideas, please let us know.

2007-10-22 11:54:33.0 maelisa: I'm sorry that I got here late...thanks for having this question/comment..what is the candidate's responsibiliity in these situations when she(in this case it is Hillary Clinton) who knows this constituency, knows the unrealistic dreams and expectations they have of her and what their donations will do for them yet give her these big checks, what if any responsibiltiy does she have?

2007-10-22 11:55:00.0 maelisa: As an immigrant family in the 60s, I can relate, I would have wanted Hillary to say, no thanks, $25 is very helpful...\

2007-10-22 11:55:27.0 Tom Hamburger: We did talk with community leaders and Asian American academics and commentator and quoted some of them in the story

2007-10-22 11:55:29.0 Pabitra: Who do we contact about ideas? Do you have a direct number? How do we know you'll respond to our ideas?

2007-10-22 11:55:40.0 Chester: if you can help schedule a live meeting with your senior editorial team with asian pacific american leaders, that would be great

2007-10-22 11:56:23.0 Tom Hamburger: Please feel free to email us. Peter is at and I am reachable at

2007-10-22 11:57:10.0 Peter Nicholas: Thanks, Chester. We'll pass along your suggestion to our editors. Again, you're welcome to email me if you'd like to follow up. I am at

2007-10-22 11:57:13.0 TL: are you and peter in a new york bureau of the LA Times?

2007-10-22 11:57:19.0 vshu: As the elections continue to move forward, it is my hope that the media reports on Asian American political activities in a positive light. As a result of your story, there are at least two more stories in newspapers in NYC, both of whom, in wishing to jump onto this bandwagon, got their facts wrong.

2007-10-22 11:57:25.0 Tom Hamburger: We want to thank all of you for participating today and for your thoughtful comments.

2007-10-22 11:57:46.0 Administrator2: Thank you all for coming to today's chat; if you missed any of it, a transcript will be available later today at

2007-10-22 11:58:08.0 Administrator2: Please stay tuned for future politics chats at!

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