What made Norman Hsu run? So asks the Wall Street Journal. Let's start the story from the time he was a bankrupt in 1990.
In October 1990 he divorced, after his wife filed a petition citing "unhappy and irreconcilable differences." Mr. Hsu was practically destitute, according to bankruptcy documents. He owed $1.64 million to a long list of people, including his father-in-law, who had lent him money. The documents said he was renting a home for $1,750 a month in Foster City and spending $75 a month for clothes.
Mr. Hsu vanished just before his scheduled sentencing in 1992. He soon began building new businesses, this time in Hong Kong.
Let's take up the story from Hong Kong, where Hsu is without two dimes he can rub together to keep company. According to the WSJ, things didn't get better. Then he moved back to California -- a fugitive let's not forget -- where things may or may not have improved.
But his star also fell in Hong Kong. Both companies were dissolved in 1997 and 1998. The Hong Kong courts declared Mr. Hsu bankrupt in the summer of 1998.
Mr. Hsu soon returned to California, creating another chain of addresses near San Francisco and Los Angeles. Real-estate brokers in the area say that he actively invested in properties in the Bay area. He continued dabbling in the apparel industry as well. A few years ago, Mr. Hsu's activity in the Bay Area tapered off. And he appeared to move to New York. And he emerged in another circle -- political fund-raising in New York.
Just how or why he got involved in politics is unclear. In 2004, Mr. Hsu donated $2,000, the most then allowed, to the presidential campaign of Massachusetts Democratic Sen. John Kerry.
We are in 2004 before Hsu becomes a political player. And from appearances, Hsu is strictly from hunger, giving just $2,000 to John Kerry. But suddenly his fortune changes and within a short time Norman gets a lot of money to throw around.
Mr. Hsu began contributing generously to an array of Democrats, including California Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer and Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu. He donated $5,000 to Bob Hertzberg, who was running for mayor of Los Angeles. When Bill Richardson ran for governor of New Mexico, Mr. Hsu was among the top contributors, donating $37,000 in all. ... In 2004, Mr. Hsu began giving to federal candidates, including Mrs. Clinton and Illinois Democratic Sen. Barack Obama. ...
In 2005 things begin to really ramp up.
... he frequently threw parties. To celebrate the Democrats' victories in Congress, the Senate and gubernatorial races, he rented a New York club called Buddakan. With several governors and others in the audience, Mr. Hsu grabbed the microphone, according to someone who was there, and ordered anyone who wasn't supporting Hillary Clinton to "get out!"
Mr. Hsu also was a burgeoning philanthropist. He was a significant donor to the Innocence Project, which helps prisoners overturn unfair convictions through DNA testing.
Mr. Hsu also is listed on the roster of members for the Clinton Global Initiative -- an effort by Mrs. Clinton's husband, the former president, to recruit people to tackle problems like poverty and disease -- in 2005 and 2006. Members are required to donate $15,000 a year.
And the rest is history. Question. What happened between 2000 and 2004 that suddenly turned his fortunes around? Prior to that Hsu was just a shady operator. Afterwards he was player. Maybe investigations in the coming weeks will shed light on this transition.