Maria Hsia

March 16, 2000

Bill Bradley has been asking Al Gore to explain his appearance at a fund-raiser at a Buddhist temple in California. Perhaps now, Mr. Gore will have to give an answer.

Al Goreís long-time friend Maria Hsia was convicted on all five felony counts involving campaign money funnelled through the 1996 Buddhist Temple fund-raiser. Although the Buddhist monks take a vow of poverty, lots of money showed up at this fund-raising event. At the trial, evidence was presented that more than $100,000 was raised by the Vice Presidentís appearance at the temple luncheon. John Huang testified that Maria Hsia passed him an envelope with $100,000 in checks which he took to the airport.

The conviction in many ways defied the odds given the pre-trial actions. For example, the Justice Department did not move quickly on the case so two Buddhist nuns who were immunized witnesses fled to Taiwan. Then the case was moved from California to the District of Columbia. Some believe that increased the odds that a D.C. jury might buy the defense line about Hsia being "selectively prosecuted." And many accused the chief judge of bypassing the normal computerized procedure for picking judges by giving the case to Judge Paul Friedman, a Clinton appointee. Nevertheless, the D.C. jury found Maria Hsia guilty of five felony counts including making false statements and hiding campaign money.

It does appear that at least one court has found a "controlling legal authority" when it comes to the 1996 campaign. The conviction of Maria Hsia suggests that perhaps other convictions will take place in the future. Already there is talk of cases against major players in the scandal. If more convictions occur and are given proper coverage, they may affect the presidential election.

Iím Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and thatís my opinion.