by Rick Pearson
DES MOINES — Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton defended her fundraising practices among New York's Chinese community today and said those questioning her ability to reform Washington, including attacks from her rivals, should look at her record.
"I represent New York and New York is a symbol of the success of immigrants coming to America," the New York senator told reporters after addressing supporters at the Oak Park Elementary School on Des Moines' north side.
"I am pleased to have a lot of first-generation American support as well as people who have been longtime involved in the political process. I'm going to keep reaching out to everybody in our country. I want to be a president to everybody."
The Los Angeles Times recently reported on donations Clinton has received from New York's Chinese community, including contributions of between $500 and the federal $2,300 maximum per election, coming from people identified as dishwashers and other menial jobs. Of 150 contributions examined, one-third of the donors could not be found and a $1,000 donor said they did not give a contribution.
The newspaper noted that at a single April fundraiser held in an area of poverty, Clinton raised $380,000.
"I think with respect to that one event, there were more than 250 people there," Clinton said. "My campaign reviewed any of the contributors, we've returned money. New things come to light, we'll continue to do that."
The Clinton campaign has said it reviewed donations and returned those in cases where it couldn't confirm the contributions were legally given.
Democratic rival John Edwards, a former North Carolina senator, has repeatedly attacked Clinton for taking money from special interests and lobbyists in her campaign, which he said he and Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois have refused. Edwards questioned whether Clinton can "challenge our broken system in Washington."
"This is not a purity contest—it's not about what we've done yesterday," Edwards said in a statement. "This is about what each of us can do today to fix the system."
But Clinton said "rhetoric is easy to come by."
"If you look at what I've done, I have been at the forefront of a lot of the major challenges we've had in trying to rein in special interests and I believe as president I will be in a position to do that," she said.