Political Capital with John Harwood

Clinton Returns Donations: Does She Have Clean Slate?


The decision by Hillary Clinton's campaign to return $850,000 in donations tied to scandal-plagued donor Norman Hsu represents an attempt to stop a damaging story line--and raise the stakes on rivals seeking to capitalize. The refunds, among the largest in political history, set a precedent that will create pressure in future situations involved tainted donors.

Nearly every well-funded campaign has at least some of them, from John Edwards' past support from indicted Michigan lawyer Geoffrey Fieger to Barack Obama's backing from indicted fund-raiser Tony Rezko.

Whether this proves effective scandal management remains to be seen; in recent days, the Hsu story has provided the sort of opening rivals Obama and Edwards have been waiting for in their attempts to push a message of change. The answer will depend on whether there are additional revelations about Hsu and his relationship to the Clinton campaign.

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