AUGUST 27, 2009
Top Democrats, including President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, are scrambling to return tainted money donated by one of the party’s biggest fundraisers after his arrest this week for fraud.
Hassan Nemazee, a wealthy Iranian investment banker, has been charged with lying about his assets to obtain a $74 million bank loan and suddenly the Democrats who have benefitted from his generous donations over the years are working diligently to distance themselves from him.
The ditching can’t erase history, however. For nearly a decade Nemazee has been a key figure in Democratic fundraising circles, donating and gathering hundreds of thousands of dollars for the party’s most high-profile candidates, including the president, vice president and secretary of state as well as other New York politicians.
Nemazee was actually the national finance chairman of Hillary Clinton’s failed 2008 presidential campaign. He went on to raise more than half a million dollars for Obama after Clinton’s primary defeat and donated the maximum ($50,000) allowed to the new president’s inauguration committee. Less than a year ago he hosted a $28,500-a-head fundraiser for Obama in his luxurious Upper East Side New York penthouse.
Nemazee was also the finance chairman of Senator John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign and in the late 1990s Bill Clinton nominated him to be U.S. ambassador to Argentina though the position never materialized. Federal prosecutors say he committed fraud by using forged documents listing fake accounts with collateral worth hundreds of millions of dollars to obtain a loan.
Another top Democratic fundraiser, admitted Chinese swindler Norman Hsu, is in jail for fraud. Hsu raised nearly $1 million for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and substantial sums for party leaders like New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson and California Senator Dianne Feinstein. Clinton was so tight with Hsu that a voicemail recording of her praising Hsu was presented as evidence in federal court. In it she repeatedly thanks Hsu for his support and tells the one-time fugitive she’s never seen anybody who has been more loyal and more effective.
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