A New York City hotel and restaurant tycoon, as well as a major Democratic fundraiser for candidates such as Hillary Clinton, entered a guilty plea on Thursday in a Manhattan federal courtroom in which he admitted to a conspiracy to evade campaign finance laws and to witness tampering, according to a U.S. Justice Department announcement.
Sant Singh Chatwal had raised at least $100,000 for Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign against Barack Obama and donated more than $180,000 to three other Democratic Party candidates using "straw donors" he selected and who were reimbursed after they contributed to the those candidates.
According to Attorney General Eric Holder and his minions at the Justice Department, there was no evidence the candidates were aware of Chatwel's actions, while critics complain there was no follow up after Chatwal was indicted.
"Does anyone believe a Democratic Party president or attorney general these days will go after fellow Democrats who are involved in Federal Elections Commission (FEC) improprieties, especially when it comes to Hillary Clinton," said political strategist Mike Baker.
"And don't expect the major news organizations to look into this case involving the 'heiress apparent' to the U.S. White House," Baker added.
According to news reports, in November 2009, the 70-year-old Chatwal was invited along celebrities, major Democratic fund raisers and "bundlers" to President Barack Obama’s first state dinner at the White House.
The convicted felon was the CEO of the company Hampshire Hotels up until last month. Hampshire owns and operates hotels in New York, Miami, the United Kingdom, and India. It also owns several upscale eateries as well.
According to Acting Assistant Attorney General David O'Neil, “Chatwal admitted that he used straw donors to secretly funnel money to political campaigns so that he could gain access to the politicians, and he coerced another person to hide his crime. Chatwal went to great lengths to undermine both election laws and our system of justice. Today’s guilty plea shows our vigilance and determination to prosecute those who damage the integrity of elections by masking the true sources of campaign contributions.”
As far as witness tampering, Chatwal attempted to mislead a federal grand jury investigation into through his direct witness tampering.
The owner of a business that performed construction work for Chatwal’s companies was recruited as a "straw donor." During a recorded conversation, Chatwal was heard telling that individual if federal agents questioned him or his family, they should tell the agents to speak to their attorney, who was already provided by Chatwal.