Judicial Watch News

February 16, 2007

From the Desk of Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton:

Hillary Plans to Shatter Campaign Fundraising Records

Hillary Clinton is in the midst of a mad dash for campaign dollars, hoping to establish her financial dominance over her competitors for the Democratic nomination.  According to The Washington Post, Clinton plans to bank $60 million in 2007 alone, which “would represent a record-breaking take for a presidential contest.”

How does Hillary plan to accomplish this feat?  By “playing hostess to billionaire Hollywood moguls, millionaire lawyers and venture capitalists” the Post reports.  On February 6, for example, Hillary held a reception at her Washington home where attendees pledged to raise at least $250,000 each during the presidential campaign from friends and associates.  Hillary has also held “briefings,” or “Hillraisers,” as they are being called, at a local hotel for wealthy campaign supporters who pledge to raise $25,000 or more.  (The process is known as “bundling,” where lobbyists and other political insiders gather contributions and “bundle” them together to be given to a chosen candidate.)

Judicial Watch neither supports nor opposes candidates for public office.  However, given Hillary Clinton’s long history of campaign fundraising irregularities, and the massive amount of money she plans to raise, her campaign fundraising operation bears close monitoring.

Last year, in response to a Judicial Watch complaint, the Federal Election Commission fined Hillary’s Senate campaign $35,000 for failing to accurately report contributions.  (The scandal also led to the indictment of her National Finance Director David Rosen on criminal charges.)  Update readers will also recall that Hillary masterminded the scheme (among others) to trade taxpayer-funded trade mission seats in exchange for campaign contributions to the Clinton-Gore 1996 re-election campaign.

So, what favors is Hillary offering to her favorite campaign bundlers?  She should disclose their names publicly so the American people can make sure she’s not up to any old tricks.  The same goes for Democratic candidates John Edwards, Barack Obama and Republican John McCain, all of whom have publicly said they plan to use bundling to drive their fundraising campaigns.

In a related story, it appears Hillary Clinton is getting some stiff competition from Barack Obama when it comes to raising funds from the Hollywood left.  According to conservative columnist Robert Novak, it took the personal intervention of former President Clinton to get Hollywood director Stephen Spielberg, a long-time Clinton ally, to back off from his implicit support of Obama for the Democratic nomination.

The Clintons can do little ethically, so it would not surprise if the Clinton machine is making explicit and implicit threats against reluctant big Democratic donors.

Are Student Visas Being Exploited by Terrorists?  Judicial Watch Investigates

In early January, a Defense Intelligence Agency official testified before Congress that al-Qaeda leaders in Iraq are plotting to smuggle terrorists into the U.S. using student visas.  This, of course, is not a new technique.   At least two of the 9/11 hijackers were in the U.S. on student visas.

Judicial Watch began investigating the student visa program following a Bush administration joint statement with Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah in April 2005 increasing the number of Saudi students permitted to travel to and study in the United States.  Judicial Watch filed a Freedom of Information Act request with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on March 24, 2006.  According to records recently obtained by Judicial Watch, 9,952 “active Saudi Arabian students” were in the United States, on three different types of visas as of January 25, 2007.

The ICE documents obtained by Judicial Watch contain the following breakdown of the student visa program:  9,787 students possess “F-1” visas, which are designated for foreign students pursuing a full course of academic study.  Nine students possess visa type “M-1”, which are designated for foreign students pursuing a full course of vocational or recognized non-academic program.  The remaining 156 possess visa type “J-1,” intended for foreign nationals who are selected by a sponsor to participate in an exchange visitor program.

According to other ICE official records dated September 6, 2005, at the time, there were a total of 611,581 active foreign students in the United States eligible for “F-1” and “M-1” student and vocational visas.  The same records indicated that there are 154,471 exchange visitors eligible for “J-1” exchange visas.

On September 11, 2001, 15 of the 19 terrorist hijackers carrying out the attacks were Saudi nationals.  According to a CNN News Report, six months after the attacks, Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS) issued visa approval/verification letters for two of the hijackers to the flight schools at which they were registered.  Mohamed Atta and Marwan Al-Shehhi were approved for “M-1” vocational/non-academic visas by INS in 2000.

Judicial Watch will continue to seek information from the U.S. government concerning the student visa program to help make sure that it is not being exploited by terrorists.  More to come…

Corporate Irresponsibility:  Bank of America Offers Credit Cards to Illegal Immigrants

This week, Bank of America began issuing credit cards to a group of customers that the bank and everyone else acknowledges largely to be made up of illegal immigrants.  Currently, the “pilot program” is operational in 51 Los Angeles, California, branches, but the bank is hoping to turn it into a nationwide bank policy in 2008.  No Social Security number or proof of legal residency is required to obtain the credit card.  Of course, most illegal aliens don’t have Social Security numbers.  But Bank of America sees the illegal alien market as big, so they’re willing to make it easy for illegals to get credit cards.

Like other incentive programs for illegal aliens, this Bank of America program seems to be at odds with federal laws that prohibit encouraging or inducing illegals to cross the border.  Moreover, as Republican Representative Tom Tancredo and Department of Homeland Security officials have pointed out, there is great potential for criminal misuse of the program by terrorists.

“At face value the program seems to be problematic,” Russ Knocke, a spokesman for Homeland Security. “It seems to be lending itself to possibilities of perpetrating identity theft or creating more risk for money laundering.”

Of course, we shouldn’t be surprised that Bank of America has decided to flout immigration laws and compromise national security.  Not when the federal government has provided such a poor example.

As I reported to you in December, Judicial Watch uncovered a new government program – “Directo a México” [Direct to Mexico] – which is designed to facilitate the transfer of funds from immigrant workers in the U.S. – regardless of their legal status – to their relatives in Mexico.  In response to a Freedom of Information Act request, Judicial Watch obtained marketing materials from the Federal Reserve prepared for presentations to banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions, like Bank of America.

Is there any wonder why corporate executives believe they can undermine immigration laws without consequence?

(By the way, just another reminder, at the end of this month, Judicial Watch is hosting an educational panel to discuss how local communities are addressing the illegal immigration crisis.  Panel members will include Hazelton, Pennsylvania, Mayor Louis Barletta, former Beaufort County, South Carolina Council Member, Starletta Hairston and Virginia Delegate Jackson H. Miller – all of whom have bravely taken on the issue of local enforcement of nation’s immigration laws. The panel is free and open to the public.)

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