Rendell Can't Spin Away Hsu

Article excerpt

HARRISBURG

Capitol observers were astounded when Gov. Ed Rendell called Democrat fundraiser Norman Hsu, a felon and then-fugitive, "one of the best 10 people I've met." They're likely more astounded now.

Rendell made the comment to The Philadelphia Inquirer; it became instant fodder for Capitol insiders. If Mr. Hsu is on the governor's Top 10 list, who else is on the list?

Incredibly, Rendell last week backed off the statement at his first Capitol news conference since the Hsu scandal surfaced. The governor threw in a heavy qualifier.

"First of all ... let me be clear: I said he was one of the 10 best people I've met in the field of political giving."

You've got to be kidding. Three weeks after one of the nation's leading newspapers quoted him on "best people" he now tries to correct the statement? Why didn't he ask The Inquirer for a correction or clarification the day it was published? Tom Fitzgerald, a top-notch Inquirer reporter, took the statement out of context? No way.

Rendell is spinning.

When Rendell made the statement, Hsu had just been exposed as a fugitive, 15 years on the lam. Hsu had pleaded no contest to a business fraud charge in California in 1991. He failed to appear for sentencing in 1992. He somehow eluded the authorities, blending into the garment industry in New York City. Only when several national newspapers made a connection between Hsu's criminal past and his role as a bundler extraordinaire for leading Democrat candidates did Hsu decide to face the music in California.

Hsu raised or donated hundreds of thousand of dollars to top Democrats, including presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, and, of course, Ed Rendell. …