Nicholson, Burton Pleased With Hsia Conviction - Sentencing Next

By Jim Burns | July 7, 2008 | 8:25 PM EDT

( Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Jim Nicholson said on Thursday that his "faith in the jury system is once again restored" after a Washington jury found Maria Hsia, a key figure in the 1996 Democratic fund raising scandal and in Vice President Gore's visit to a Buddhist temple campaign event, guilty on charges that she hid $109,000 in illegal contributions.

Nicholson said in a statement released in Washington, "Today's (Thursday's) conviction of Maria Hsia is even more stunning since the Clinton-Gore Justice Department and a hand-picked Clinton Judge (Paul Friedman) did all they could to ensure an acquittal. My faith in the jury system is once again restored."

Hsia, a longtime Gore supporter, was found guilty on all five counts charging her with causing false statements to be filed with federal regulators about money she raised from the California temple and others for Democratic candidates.

Hsia helped arrange Gore's 1996 visit at the Los Angeles Buddhist temple that Gore attended, but she said that he did not know the temple was being used for fundraising.

Nicholson thinks the jury saw through the "Clinton-Gore Justice Department's charade" in what's being seen as a victory for the Justice Department's campaign finance task force.

"The Jury must have seen through the Clinton-Gore Justice Department's charade, which treated Al Gore, (Congressman) Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) and the Democrat National Committee as if they were unwitting victims of an illegal scheme instead of co-conspirators in a brazen and illegal scheme to launder campaign cash and make it appear that impoverished Buddhist monks and nuns were responsible. If Al Gore was a victim of Maria Hsia, then Clyde Barrow was a victim of Bonnie Parker," Nicholson said.

Nicholson thinks authorities should now go after what he called "major players."

"Now that justice has finally been served, against all odds, its time to get beyond the small fry and take on the major players like Al Gore, Representative Patrick Kennedy (Chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee) and the responsible parties of the Democrat National Committee," Nicholson said.

Congressman Dan Burton (R-IN), Chairman of the Government Reform Committee, reacted to the Hsia verdict by saying, "I was disturbed that Attorney General Janet Reno's Justice Department sought to portray the Vice President and the Democratic National Committee as victims in the His Lai Temple fiasco. The Justice Department is being a little disingenuous about this.

"There is no doubt that the Vice President and the DNC were not victims. The Vice President just hasn't leveled with the American people.

"I will be watching the sentencing in this case very carefully. Janet Reno's Justice Department has sought very light sentences for Democrats and severe sentences for Republicans who have committed similar crimes. I'll be watching to see if Judge Friedman hands down an Alice in Wonderland sentence," Burton said.

Hsia's verdict came after three days of jury deliberations.