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 TIME on politics Congressional Quarterly CNN/AllPolitics CNN/AllPolitics - Storypage, with TIME and Congressional Quarterly

Judge dismisses five counts against fund-raiser Maria Hsia

By Brooks Jackson/CNN

WASHINGTON (Sept. 10) -- A federal judge Thursday dismissed five counts of a six-count indictment against Democratic fund-raiser Maria Hsia, a longtime political colleague of Vice President Al Gore. A single conspiracy count was left standing.

Maria Hsia  

Judge Paul Friedman voided all five counts charging Hsia with causing false statements to be filed to the Federal Election Commission (FEC), including two counts that directly mentioned Gore's role in a 1996 fund-raising event at Buddhist temple in Los Angeles. He said prosecutors took an "overly broad" reading of the federal law against making false official statements.

The judge ordered further hearings on the single remaining conspiracy count, which charges her with orchestrating illegal donations to the Democratic National Committee. Hsia's lawyer is asking that count be dismissed on grounds of alleged prosecutorial misconduct.

"We're very pleased," said the lawyer, Nancy Luque. "We fully expect that the one remaining count won't last very long."

The dismissal was a blow to Attorney General Janet Reno's campaign finance investigation, which she has said is one of the largest in the history of the Justice Department. And it is good news for Gore, whose role in the temple fund-raiser is now much less likely to be re-examined should the Hsia case go to trial.

The Justice allegations had charged that Hsia and the Buddhist temple used people as "conduits" to make contributions to various campaigns and committees, including the Democratic National Committee, the Clinton/Gore 1996 re-election campaign, and re-election campaigns for Sen. Ted Kennedy in 1994 and his son Rep. Patrick Kennedy in 1996.

The indictment says the temple reimbursed the campaign contributions of people who served as "conduits," including Hsia herself. The indictment alleges that the system of payments defrauded the FEC because the watchdog agency was given false information about the source on contributions, and the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) because it was not told the source was a non-U.S. citizen so that the agency would permit the "conduits" to enter or remain in the United States.

Hsia was born in Taiwan, after her parents fled the People's Republic of China. She emigrated to the U.S. in 1973.

She has been an active Democratic fund-raiser since the late 1980's when she headed the Los Angeles-based Pacific Leadership Council, a group of Asian-American contributors.


Maria Hsia Indicted In Campaign Finance Probe (2-18-98)

Inside The Hsi Lai Temple (8-18-97)


Department of Justice


Thursday September 10, 1998

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