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10.21.2007

hillary's big in chinatown

This story from Friday's Los Angeles Times, about Hillary Clinton's extraordinary—and possibly shady—fundraising among residents of New York's Chinatown, has gotten quite a bit of attention over the internets and beyond: An unlikely treasure-trove of donors for Clinton. At this point in the presidential campaign cycle, Clinton has raised more money than any candidate in history. The article raises the question how some of Hillary's Chinatown donors, holding jobs like diswashers and waiters, would be able to donate amounts ranging from $500 to $2300 to her campaign:
The Times examined the cases of more than 150 donors who provided checks to Clinton after fundraising events geared to the Chinese community. One-third of those donors could not be found using property, telephone or business records. Most have not registered to vote, according to public records.

And several dozen were described in financial reports as holding jobs -- including dishwasher, server or chef -- that would normally make it difficult to donate amounts ranging from $500 to the legal maximum of $2,300 per election.

Of 74 residents of New York's Chinatown, Flushing, the Bronx or Brooklyn that The Times called or visited, only 24 could be reached for comment.

Many said they gave to Clinton because they were instructed to do so by local association leaders. Some said they wanted help on immigration concerns. And several spoke of the pride they felt by being associated with a powerful figure such as Clinton.
The article examines Clinton's influence and popularity among folks in the Chinese community, and whether it's possible for an area with a median family income of $21,000 to donate the amount of money Clinton has supposedly received. Basically, there's a question of whether something shady is going down in Chinatown. Because, you know, the Chinese are sneaky like that. Right?

Why is it that every time Chinese people and campaign fundraising are uttered in the same breath, there's this reckless suspicion that something mysterious and underhanded is going on? Why does this LA Times story spend so much time insinuating that something is not quite right, going into hints of organized crime, mystery donors, and whether or not a person can understand English? Why not just come out and say it, instead of hiding behind this biased-ass story? You think something illicit is going on. Hell, maybe something is. But I'm inclined to believe that this community, and this money, wouldn't receive half as much scrutiny—from reporters across the country—if we weren't talking about Chinatown. That's racist! Here is Congressman Mike Honda's reaction to the LA Times article: Honda Statement on L.A. Time Campaign Donor Story.