SEPTEMBER 13, 2007
Evidently unfazed by the scandal surrounding her fugitive Chinese mega donor, Hillary Clinton starred in south Florida fundraiser this week hosted by a local politician convicted of federal corruption charges.
The former longtime mayor of the Dade County city of Hialeah, Raul Martinez, hosted Clintonâ??s fundraising bash at his home just hours before the New York Senator announced she would return nearly $1 million in campaign cash donated by Hong Kong fugitive Norman Hsu, a top Democratic fundraiser who was crowned â??HillRaiserâ? for promising to bundle at least $100,000 for Clintonâ??s 2008 presidential run.
The burly and outspoken Martinez went into a profanity-laced tirade with a local newspaper reporter who dared to point out his shady past. Martinez was convicted of extortion and racketeering for accepting $1 million in cash and property from land developers in 1991. The conviction was reversed on appeal and in 1993 he supposedly won an election that a judge threw out because of voter fraud.
Martinez still remains south Floridaâ??s most popular Hispanic Democrat, regularly fraternizing with national candidates and often helping them raise local dollars. He stepped down as Hialeah mayor in 2005 and is considering challenging Republican U.S. Representative Lincoln Diaz-Balart in 2008.
Clinton was in south Florida for the Spanish language debate of Democratic presidential candidates at the University of Miami. The Martinez fundraiser could be her last in Florida since Democratic candidates have pledged not to campaign in the state if it fails to change its primary by the end of September. Florida bumped its primary up to January 29, but national party rules allow only four smaller states to hold primaries that month.
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