In 2008, Tak was a ‘Hillraiser’ and co-chair of DNC’s Indo-American Council.
By Sujeet Rajan
NEW YORK: Former vice president Al Gore and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio are irritatingly withholding support, missing e-mails from time at the State Department continues to haunt and condemn her, and increasingly worrying is the gap being closed by Vermont socialist Bernie Sanders in polls, but the one steady thing going for Hillary Clinton is the staunch support of the Indian Americans, who are quickly galvanizing themselves to her cause.
Prominent community members have sprung into action to contribute to Clinton’s war chest with fundraisers.
The first Indian American to organize a major fundraiser for Clinton is prominent Maryland Democrat Mahinder Tak, who is expected to raise $325,000 or so from 100-110 guests at her house in Potomac next week.
The event was originally scheduled for Friday evening, but it was rescheduled in order for Clinton to attend the memorial service for Rev. Clementa Pinckney, the pastor of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, who was gunned down last week, along with eight others by a racist terrorist in Charleston, South Carolina.
Clinton is expected to speak for a few minutes and shake hands with those present.
Tak is a retired radiation oncologist and US Army colonel. She was co-chair of the Democratic National Committee’s Indo-American Council during the 2008 Obama campaign. She and her husband Sharad Tak, a pioneer in the federal outsourcing contract business who got the Indian Americans to be recognized as a ‘minority’ community to secure government contracts, are equally famous for owning one of the largest collection of Indian contemporary art in the world.
The Taks’ support for the Clintons stretch back to the time when Bill Clinton ran for office. They have raised money for not just Democrats like Barack Obama, Terry McAuliffe and John Kerry, but also for Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, when he ran for Congress.
In a phone interview to The American Bazaar, Mahinder Tak said she didn’t think any viable candidate will emerge to challenge Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries, even though it is still early days.
“America needs a woman now, she is the best candidate for Democrats,” said Tak, who praised the former Secretary of State’s record in espousing the cause of children and women early on in her career.
Asked if she would still raise money for Jindal despite knowing his far right views, Tak said that raising money for candidates when they stood for positions like congress and governor is okay, but when it comes to presidential polls, views matter.
“Jindal’s values are different, on abortion, women’s rights, evolution. My views are not his,” she said, adding she would not raise money for him this time around.
Asked if Nikki Haley was a Democrat and pitted against Clinton in the primaries, whom would she still root for, Tak said: “Hillary Clinton”.
“The focus is on who the country should be given in the hands of. Who can lead the country better. America needs her (Clinton). Haley is not experienced enough,” reasoned Tak.
When given another scenario, with Kamala Harris pitted against Clinton, Taka again opined her support for Clinton.
For Clinton, the support of the Indian American community is going to be soothing, apart from the money that will flow into her coffers for the primaries, and later if she is elected as the nominee, for the presidential polls. Tak says she will hold another fundraiser for Clinton once she gets the Democratic nomination.
Philanthropist Frank Islam is another Indian American Democrat who will host a fundraiser for Clinton this October, as revealed to The American Bazaar.
The surge will build up later this year as Indian American bundlers, known as Hillraisers – those who raised money for Clinton when she first ran for president in 2008 – swing into action.
In 2008, the Hillraisers collected at least $1 million, an American Bazaar analysis of the campaign data by the Center for Responsive Politics and Public Citizen revealed. Tak raised at least $100,000 that time.
The bundlers’ list included hotelier Sant Chatwal and his son Vikram Chatwal.
Here is the list of Hillraisers, and the amount they raised, in 2008:
|Name||Minimum amount raised||State||Employer/profession|
|Sant Chatwal||$100,000||NY||Hampshire Hotels & Resorts|
|Vikram Chatwal||$100,000||NY||Hampshire Hotels & Resorts|
|Raj K. Fernando||$100,000||IL||Chopper Trading LL|
|Kamil Hasan||$100,000||CA||Hitek Venture Partners|
|Talat Hasan||$100,000||CA||Hitek Venture Partners|
|Arvind Raghunathan||$100,000||NY||Deutsche Bank|
|Prakash Shah||$100,000||NJ||First Mortgage Realty|
(Updated on July 19, 2015. An earlier version of the story incorrectly identified Integrated Archive Systems CEO Amy Rao as an Indian American. She is the spouse of Indian American Pradeep Rao.)
(Sujeet Rajan is the Editor-in-Chief of The American Bazaar)