HIGHLAND PARK, ILL.–The Washington Post gives a detailed, inside look at the Obama fund-raising operation and chief professional fund-raiser Julianna Smoot and how she pursued now tainted Democratic donor Norman Hsu. Smoot specializes in high-end donor solicitation, donor maintainence and cultivating a network of wealthy bundlers.
The WashPo story reveals that Smoot–as well as the Clinton fund-raising operation–wooed Hsu, who turned out–no one knew–to be on the lam from criminal charges.
Hsu ended up with the Clinton team and her campaign had to refund about $850,000 in contributions he coordinated. But the WashPo story shows that Obama could have faced the same problem if Hsu had picked him.
Smoot knew Obama was not alone in pursuing potential fundraisers. Some were getting daily calls from presidential candidates. One potential bundler contacted by Smoot was Norman Hsu, one of the most reliable donors from her tenure as finance chair for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Hsu would later become mired in scandal as a top bundler for the Clinton campaign, but he was regarded at the time as a prime target because of his reputation for producing a steady flow of campaign cash.
In an interview — before it was reported that Hsu was a fugitive trying to outrun a 15-year-old conviction for running a Ponzi scheme — he recalled his call from Smoot. She asked what he thought of Obama’s bid and whether he might consider helping. “I told her, ‘You’re asking for an unbiased opinion from someone who is very biased.’ She knew I was loyal to Senator Clinton. I told her she was asking the wrong person. We both respected each other well enough not to talk about it after that