Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Company We Keep—Part II

Yesterday we outlined a few friends of Obama and their ideological and financial influence on the candidate. Today, we continue to examine some more folks, their resumes, and question the wisdom of these associations. In this case we have a candidate who claims her experience in the White House is a positive factor to consider while voting. Given our views on the bonds of marriage, we agree that viewing a couple as a unit is an acceptable proposition. Therefore, we shall consider them a team and equally responsible.

I referenced my mother yesterday and shall emphasize another bit of wisdom she frequently offered. “Don’t take money from strangers.”

Marc Rich—In the final hours of the Clinton administration, among the pardons granted, rose the name of Marc Rich. He fled to Switzerland years previously to avoid facing charges of illegal trading, racketeering, and tax evasion ($48 million.) In addition to his other white collar crimes he was also accused of trading with Iran during the hostage crisis during the Carter administration.

His ex-wife, Denise, gave generous donations and attained friend of Bill status to allegedly gain the pardon.

Sant S. Chatwal—He raised about a half million for the 2000 senatorial campaign and pledged at least $5 million for the presidential campaign in 2007. It’s easier to raise huge sums when one doesn’t pay taxes. The IRS is seeking $4 million and the State of New York wants another $5 million in back taxes. He is also sought in India on charges of bank fraud.

Having a flush campaign war chest is apparently more important than understanding the source of the largesse.

Vinod Gupta—Gupta is in charge of infoUSA, a business in Omaha which paid Clinton more than $2 million in “consulting fees.” He is a list broker who sells the names of the most vulnerable seniors to confirmed con artists. Armed with the names, they proceed to bilk the unwary oldsters by appealing to their specific weaknesses – various illnesses, gambling addiction, and other infirmities. In 2002, he flew the Clintons in his private jet to a vacation in Acapulco. You do remember the picture of the happy couple supposedly dancing on the beach.

Yah Lin “Charlie” Trie—An Arkansas restaurateur, Charlie managed to gain about $2.2 million from foreign corporations (patently illegal) for the DNC and helped pay close to half a million of Clinton’s legal bills. Among the more nefarious activities was a meeting set up at the White House with a Chinese arms dealer.

During the 1997 Justice Department campaign finance investigation, Charlie was among the first indicted.

John Huang—His best known stunt was the solicitation of funds from nuns and monks of His Lai Temple in California. The huge sum gathered from those who had taken a vow of poverty was apparently reimbursed by the church. In addition to $250,000 from a South Korean company, an additional $450,000 was raised from persons of questionable citizenship.

In addition to having free access to the White House, he was awarded a “top secret” clearance by the Commerce Department. In fairness, one should point out that the majority of the $3.4 million raised for the DNC was returned. That had to hurt.

James Riady—Another source of foreign money funneled into the DNC and the campaign coffers, Riady is described as an Indonesian banking magnate. For his complicity in giving the tainted funds, he made the largest campaign finance settlement to the Justice Department in history for his 1992 shenanigans.

Riady was also closely associated with John Huang both in Arkansas and on the national scene.

Johnny Chung—A Taiwan born Californian, gave $366,000 in personal and corporate funds to the campaign and the DNC. It was alleged that the Chinese government supplied a large part of the funding. Most of the money was returned but not until Chung had made 49 visits to the White House. On one occasion he arranged for five Chinese businessmen to attend a taping of a Clinton radio address for a $50,000 donation.

His most reprehensible quote was, “The White House is like a subway: You have to put in coins to open gates.”

If you have time on your hands and some curiosity, you may wish to “Google” the following names: Roger Tamraz, Peter F. Paul, Aaron Tonkin, Jeffrey Epstein, John K.H. Lee, Pauline Kanchanalak, Ng Lap Seng, Abdul Rehman Jinnah and Ron Burkle. You will find a string of individuals breaking the law, skirting the law, and for the most part, just laughing at the law. They all have one thing in common: they would applaud a Clinton presidency.

In legal circles a corporation is treated in many ways as a person. One of these is the International Profit Associates (IPA) which Clinton addressed in December 2001. The employees donated over $130,000 to the senatorial campaign. The company was rocked by sex scandals involving the CEO and sales manager. I’ll spare you the details but the Hillary campaign brushed it off and kept the money. Even Blagojevich (Illinois governor) and Doyle (Wisconsin governor) afflicted with legal problems of their own rejected the monies tainted with the scandal.

With no apparent objection from the presidential spouse, the Lincoln bedroom has acquired a “revolving door” reputation as a string of supplicants for the presidential ear have passed through. I think Motel “6” would have been a cheaper place to hang your hat for the night.

Although these examples are mostly concerned with processing “dirty” money through the campaigns they are often excused by claiming alleged “friendships.” We have spoken of friendship previously and I don’t remember money being part of the discussion. But, if that is the definition they choose to assign to the relationship then I shall acquiesce and repeat my mother’s warning about the “company we keep.”

After two days writing about these people I think I need another bath.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

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