Friday, April 04, 2008

Pick Up The Phone

When the phone is ringing in the White House at 3:00AM, you want to be sure to answer it.

The caller may be Indonesian moneybags Mochtar Riady.

An examination by the Washington Times of Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s recently released 11,046 pages of White House activity calendars in response to a freedom of information request by Judicial Watch shows, according to the Times’ report, “ that Mr. Riady and his wife were among nine people who sat with Mrs. Clinton at the head table. His name is listed next to the notation, ‘**giving large donation**.’”

Five days after the dinner, Mr. Riady wrote a four page letter to President Bill Clinton calling for an end to a 30-year trade embargo with Vietnam. Mr. Riady was developing extensive business relationships with Vietnam at the time.

“By that time,” the paper reported, “Mr. Riady's banking conglomerate, the $12 billion Indonesia-based Lippo Group, its subsidiaries and its employees, including his son James and executive John Huang had funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars to Mr. Clinton's 1992 presidential race and had guaranteed a $3 million last-minute loan to a cash-short Clinton campaign just before the crucial New York primary in 1992.”

One of the Riady connected bagmen who “played a critical role in seeking an end to the Vietnam trade embargo” was John Huang. “He quit his $120,000-a-year job at Lippo in December 1993 to accept a job offered by Mr. Clinton as deputy assistant secretary for international economic affairs at the Commerce Department, at $60,000 annually, where he aggressively argued for a new U.S. trade policy toward Vietnam,” according to the Times’ report.

“Mr. Huang resigned from Commerce in December 1995 to join the Democratic National Committee as a fundraiser, after Mr. Clinton had made inquiries on his behalf. The DNC returned $1.6 million of the more than $3 million he raised because the contributions were either illegal or suspicious.

“Mr. Huang pleaded guilty in 1999 to a felony charge of conspiring with other Lippo employees to make campaign contributions and reimburse employees with corporate funds or money from Indonesia. He was sentenced to one year probation and fined $10,000. LippoBank California, a state-chartered bank affiliated with Mr. Riady’s Lippo Group “pleaded guilty in 2001 to 86 misdemeanor counts charging that its agents made illegal foreign campaign contributions to Democrats from 1988 through 1994.”

In the meantime in Chicago, city of the big shoulders, one of Sen. Barack Obama’s patrons, Antoin "Tony" Rezko, is on trial for doing what in the days of Tammany Hall might have been considered a public service.

Tammany was well known for picking promising blooms like “Big Bill” Thompson from the nursery beds, fertilizing them with contributions and making them flower. The high point of Cook County bossism in Chicago came during the administration of Governor Thompson, a Republican, whose picture adorned the Lexington Hotel wall of the headquarters of Al Capone and his thugs. Thompson, a colorful character who once threatened to punch King George V of England in the nose, was an anti-prohibitionist who was indifferent to corruption.

Rezko, who assisted Obama in the purchase of his $1.95 million dollar house, has been indicted, according to a recent Chicago Tribune story, “for plotting to squeeze millions of dollars in kickbacks out of investment firms seeking state business and for obtaining $10.5 million from a large company through fraud and swindling a group of investors.”

Rezko has helped bankroll all of Obama’s campaigns with the exception of his bid for the presidency.

In an interview with the Tribune, Obama said ‘voters should view his Rezko dealings as ‘a mistake in not seeing the potential conflicts of interest.’ But he added that voters should also ‘see somebody who is not engaged in any wrongdoing . . . and who they can trust.’”

The delegate counts amassed by both Clinton and Obama suggest that neither Clinton's past relations with Riady nor Obama's past relations with Rezko have undermined their support within the Democrat Party or the main stream media, which has not pressed either candidate on these issues.

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