You Can’t Hide From Mother Jones

A major donor to the Democratic National Committee begged Johnny Huang to help her evade future soft-money scrutiny from Mother Jones.


We at Mother Joneshave a tradition of tracking campaign donors and their beneficiaries during election years with our MoJo 400 databases (look for the next one later this year).

On Dec. 17, our little hobby was the topic of the following exchange between Rep. Steve LaTourette, R-Ohio, and the infamous Clinton coffee-klatch contributor John Huang during campaign-finance hearings on Capitol Hill.

Turns out some big political givers don’t exactly appreciate Mother Jones’ attention. Devious donor Pauline Kanchalanak (1996 MoJo 400 rank: 240), a Thai citizen, specifically consulted Huang about how she might disguise the magnitude of her political contributions, and thereby fly under Mother Jones’ radar. Huang must give good advice: Since her appearance in 1996, she has disappeared from our MoJo 400 database.

LaTourette, as he himself mentions during the hearing, has also been unhappily written up in Mother Jones, in the same issue in which we exposed Kanchalanak. Ironically enough, we revealed that he was a major beneficiary of a notably sneaky campaign financier.

Herewith, excerpts from that day’s hearings:

LATOURETTE: All right … the other thing that was going on that I think bothers me just as much as this whole notion of illegal money coming to the Democratic National Committee, is at the same time, illegal money is going to Democratic party organizations in the various states. And … at about this time, Pauline Kanchanalak and her sister-in-law, Georgie Kronenberg, are also writing some checks to state Democratic organizations, are they not?

HUANG: That’s correct.

LATOURETTE: OK. If I could turn your attention first to Exhibit 446 through 450, I think you will find that these are checks made out by Pauline Kanchanalak to … the Florida Democratic Party for $35,000, the Illinois Democratic Party for $25,000. One that I find particularly obnoxious, the Ohio Democratic Party for $33,000 and the Pennsylvania Democratic Party for $25,000.

Now, do you know, was Pauline Kanchanalak just a lover of the states? I mean … a major, national donor, who is at a coffee at the White House and is contributing gobs of money illegally to the president of the United States’ re-election. How does such a person become interested in making a donation of $33,000 for instance … to be used for Democratic Party-building activities within the state of Ohio, not tied directly to the … re-election of the president of the United States, but to be used in races for state representative, governor, secretary of state, Ohio attorney general.

I mean, this woman, through these illegal contributions, is not only tainting the re-election process of the president of the United States, but she wants to have a hand in the election of everything from president to dog catcher. Now how did these checks get written?

HUANG: OK, first of all, Ms. Kanchanalak expressed to me, she was a little bit concerned because she was written [about] in a magazine called Mother Jones.

LATOURETTE: I’m familiar with Mother Jones.

HUANG: Right. So her name was mentioned over there. She … should prefer to keep a little bit lower profile and if she suddenly have all the money, a very large sum of money, appearing on the report, she felt less comfortable … And I ventured to check with DNC and so have some of this money be reallocated to various state parties.

LATOURETTE: OK. Let me get this straight.

So, Mother Jones writes an article and Pauline Kanchanalak shows up as what, one of the top givers to the Democratic Party in the country or some, some less…?

HUANG: Whatever the ranking will be, yeah. Her name was on the list of that.

LATOURETTE: She’s a big player. And so, she says, ‘How can I not be so obvious to Mother Jones and other people that are interested in this?’

HUANG: She was concerned about that, yes. Right.

LATOURETTE: So, she comes to you with this problem? She says, ‘Listen, I don’t like being in …’ — I was in Mother Jones once, and I didn’t like it very much either, to tell you the truth — but so she comes to you and says, ‘How can I get off this Mother Jones list?’ And you say, well…

HUANG: She expressed concern, you know, during the conversation with me, yes.

LATOURETTE: And so you then, go to the DNC and say, ‘Pauline Kanchanalak,’ that we know is high-maintenance already, based upon some things you said yesterday, ‘wants to get off Mother Jones contributor list and how does she do that?’ And someone says to you, ‘Well, she can write — rather than writing one big check for $1 million, she can write a bunch of littler checks to state party organizations.’ Is that how that works?

HUANG: I may even suggest the format is any other alley we might be able to accommodate? For instance, the state party on that.

LATOURETTE: How did the states get picked? I mean, for instance, did you tell her to write a $33,000 check to my home state of Ohio?

HUANG: No I did not. The states’ names came out from DNC.

LATOURETTE: How did she know how to make the check out?

HUANG: Through me. You know, we — DNC, sort of identify what — you can have checks issued to Florida State Democratic Party for whatever amount…

LATOURETTE: So the Democratic National Committee not only told you who she should write the check to, but how much, because they’re different amounts. I mean … maybe she doesn’t like Illinois as much, they only got $25 grand. Ohio got $35,000, or $33,000, and Florida gets $35,000. But all those numbers were supplied by the DNC as suggestions for Pauline Kanchanalak — who we now know is a Thai citizen, not eligible to participate in any election in this country — that … she should write these checks to those organizations.

HUANG: I believe so, yes.

LATOURETTE: And this process isn’t unusual, is it? I mean this isn’t the — these aren’t the [only] two people that this is done for. Now there were — you would go and receive a list of state democratic organizations and dollar amounts for other large donors, and the DNC would give you that…

HUANG: No, it happened to me a few times. As I reported to you, Mr. Chairman, on Mr. Riady yesterday, you brought out remember, Mr. Riady also in the 1992 time, wrote some checks to the state party. So you have some precedence. So personally, I had some experience on that.

LATOURETTE: OK. Based upon what we now know today … about Pauline Kanchanalak’s immigration status at the time that she was writing these checks … all of these contributions are illegal. You do know that? Today, they’re illegal.