Tester Gives Away Donations Linked to Democratic Fundraiser

By Beacon Staff

WASHINGTON (AP) – Montana Sen. Jon Tester returned $4,750 in contributions linked to Norman Hsu Tuesday, joining a growing number of Democrats who are giving away donations from the disgraced Democratic fundraiser.

Tester did not receive any direct donations from Hsu, who is under federal investigation for allegedly violating election laws. But he received money from donors reportedly associated with Hsu, including the family of William Paw of Daly City, Calif.

An FBI official said Monday that the department is investigating whether Hsu paid so-called straw donors to send campaign contributions to political campaigns, including those of Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., and Barack Obama, D-Ill.

“While the campaign received no contributions from Mr. Hsu himself, Sen. Tester decided to err on the side of caution and return the donations from Mr. Hsu’s associates,” said Tester spokesman Matt McKenna.

Clinton’s presidential campaign announced Monday that it would return $850,000 in donations raised by Hsu.

Since 2004, Hsu has donated $260,000 to Democratic Party groups and federal candidates, and raised hundreds of thousands of additional dollars. He was regarded as a top party fundraiser until recent reports surfaced that he was wanted on a warrant in California in connection with a 1991 grand theft charge. Hsu, a Hong Kong native, surrendered to authorities in August.

Paw is a San Francisco mail carrier who gave maximum donations to several of the same candidates Hsu supported. His family lives in a modest home that Hsu once listed as belonging to him.

Tester defeated Republican Sen. Conrad Burns last year amid reports that Burns had connections to another scandal-plagued donor, lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Burns eventually returned and gave away about $150,000 in donations related to Abramoff, who pleaded guilty to corruption charges and is now in jail.

Another Democratic senator elected in 2006, Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, said Tuesday she would also give away donations related to Hsu. Her staff has estimated that the senator received more than $18,000 in those donations.

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