New York college faces criticism over felon

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September 14, 2007

4:39 AM

__Hsu’s association with New School University brings negative publicity__

New School University, a liberal arts college in New York City, found itself under fire this week over its association with Norman Hsu, a board of trustees member at the school and a prominent Democratic party fundraiser. He was revealed to have an outstanding warrant for his arrest in California stemming from a felony theft conviction 15 years ago. Hsu resigned from the board Aug. 31 and was arrested in Junction City, Colo. Sept. 6, after evading authorities.

p. Hsu’s entry into the fundraising world was shrouded in mystery from the start. Recruited by Universtiy President Bob Kerrey, a former Democratic senator from Nebraska, Hsu made his first political contribution to the campaign of John Kerry July 21, 2004. He has since donated $225,000 to Democratic candidates and has helped raise over $1 million for the Hillary Clinton campaign. Kerrey met Hsu through fundraising circles and subsequently recruited him for the board, where he financed a scholarship for disadvantaged students.

p. Despite his high level of involvement, which places him among the top 20 Democratic fundraisers in the country, many other “HillRaisers,” the Clinton campaign’s name for donors of more than $100,000, claim to have never met Hsu; his address was discovered through an investigation by The Wall Street Journal. Fundraisers for the Clinton campaign and New School University familiar with Hsu describe him as “warm, giving, charming and well-dressed.” Both organizations acknowledged the risk of publicity associated with Hsu.

p. “I recruit people for the board, and anything that makes it harder to recruit people is a problem. To put them in the same paragraph as Norman Hsu is not necessarily going to make them feel good,” Kerrey said in the New York Times.

p. A spokesperson for the Clinton campaign promised that all of Hsu’s contributions would be returned. New School University has long held a reputation as a bastion of liberal activism, and many board members are politically connected. Kerrey stressed that there is no political “litmus test” associated with board membership.

p. “I thought that I knew him, but obviously I didn’t,” Kerrey said.

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