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Head of Asian GOP Group Says He “Wouldn’t Rule Out” Illegal Foreign Donations to Trump

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15.03.2019

The head of a national organization of Asian American Republicans said he can’t “rule out” the possibility that Chinese citizens illegally used American straw donors to funnel cash to the Trump campaign at events in which his group participated.

“I always have this concern about compliance,” Cliff Zhonggang Li, the executive director of the National Committee of Asian American Republicans, told Mother Jones in an interview. “I don’t know if they contributed indirectly or not,” he said, referring to Chinese citizens.

Li has been a political mentor to Cindy Yang, 45, the massage parlor entrepreneur who, through a separate company she set up in 2017 with her husband, offered access to President Donald Trump and his family at Mar-a-Lago and in Washington. Li said he introduced Yang to a network of conservative-leaning Chinese Americans in Florida and elsewhere and worked closely with her from 2015 until last year.

The Miami Herald reported Saturday that Yang had arranged for a group of Chinese business executives to attend a December 2, 2017 fundraiser for Trump at Cipriani restaurant in Manhattan. Li told Mother Jones that Yang, working as a volunteer for his group, brought 20 to 30 people to the fundraiser. He said Yang’s guests were part of a group of more than 100 Chinese Americans and Chinese citizens who were present at the event, which was reportedly attended by roughly 400 people. It is legal for people who are not American citizens or green card holders to attend political fundraisers, but they are barred from contributing to campaigns, either directly or indirectly through American donors.

Li said he did not know that wrongdoing occurred. And no evidence has emerged that Yang or any attendees or donors to the fundraiser violated campaign finance laws. But Li said that he believed Chinese executives who attended may have lacked green cards or US citizenship, and that he was concerned that some attendees might have funneled illegal donations through American straw donors. He noted that he was especially worried about attendees who were not part of the group Yang brought. But he said he could not rule out similar issues among the contingent that she worked with. “I couldn’t vet everyone,” he said. “I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of wrongdoing.”

Li emphasized that he was not asserting that Yang broke the law. But “nobody can really........

© Mother Jones