Hillary Clinton will donate contributions from Norman Hsu
NEW YORK (CNN) - The campaigns for a number of Democrats, including Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama, said Thursday they have returned or given to charity donations from fund-raiser Norman Hsu, who has an open bench warrant for his arrest in California.
"Obviously, we were all surprised by this news," the junior senator from New York said during a news conference with Gov. Eliot Spitzer, whose campaign confirmed that he too returned donations from Hsu.
Clinton said the news was unexpected. "I think it's fair to say we were all very surprised by this," she said about the $23,000 her campaign received.
Hsu came under scrutiny after news reports questioned his fund-raising and revealed he has a criminal record.
"He's a fugitive and subject to arrest," said Ronald Smetana, in California's office of the attorney general. He said Hsu pleaded no contest in 1991 to a charge of grand theft, but never showed up for sentencing. Smetana said Hsu was accused of bilking investors of $1 million and could have been sentenced to up to three years in prison and ordered to pay restitution.
"In cases like this, a fugitive can turn himself in, or be arrested in another state and extradited to our state," Smetana said.
The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that six members of the family of a San Francisco mail carrier, William Paw, have donated a total of $45,000 to Clinton since 2005, and that the donations match Hsu's.
The donations were listed on the Federal Exchange Commission's Web site and on http://www.opensecrets.org.
An online directory of addresses lists Hsu at the same address as the mail carrier.
On Tuesday, Hsu's attorney disputed any suggestion that his client had improperly directed contributions.
A spokesman for Obama said his campaign had given $7,000 in contributions from Hsu to charity and sent a letter to the Paws to affirm that their contributions were from their own funds and not those of others.
Other Democratic candidates announced they too are purging their campaigns of Hsu's contributions, including comedian Al Franken, a U.S. Senate candidate in Minnesota; U.S. Rep. Michael Honda of California; and U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak of Pennsylvania.
In a written statement, Hsu said Wednesday that he was "surprised to learn that there appears to be an outstanding warrant - as demonstrated by the fact that I have and do live a public life."
He added, "I have not sought to evade any obligations and certainly not the law."