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Cindy Yang opposed crackdown on potential foreign money at Trump fundraisers, ex-boss says

Sarah Blaskey, Nicholas Nehamas, Caitlin Ostroff and Alex Daugherty, Miami Herald on

Published in News & Features

MIAMI -- When South Florida day spa entrepreneur Cindy Yang started volunteering as a fundraiser for an Asian-American GOP political group, she was a whiz-bang event organizer with an entrepreneurial gift for making connections.

But Yang, a political novice, seemed to have a tenuous grasp of laws that prevent foreign money from entering U.S. elections, said Cliff Li, executive director of the National Committee of Asian American Republicans. He said a "messy" New York fundraiser for President Donald Trump in 2017 led him to worry that his group could be used to worm foreign money into the president's re-election campaign.

Shortly after that, Li imposed a new rule to bar anyone with the committee, also called the Asian GOP, from bringing foreign nationals to political fundraisers and said the group should focus more on policy than events.

Yang quit her fundraising position in response.

The Asian GOP's measure went further than U.S. law, which allows foreign nationals to attend political fundraisers so long as they do not pay for their entry or reimburse others for doing so. Only U.S. citizens and permanent residents can contribute to American political campaigns.

"I wanted to make sure we distanced ourselves from possible bad actors," Li told the Miami Herald.


Yang -- a Trump donor -- didn't think the change was necessary, and believed it would create tedious red tape limiting her ability to organize successful events, Li said.

"We split after the change in policy" in February 2018, Li said, although Yang remained the group's director of community outreach in Florida. He said he had no evidence that Yang did anything to violate election law, but was generally concerned about any appearance of impropriety.

After the split, she seems to have turned her attention to a private consulting business catering to Chinese executives that promised them photos with President Donald Trump and White House dinners, among other perks.

The Republican National Committee said Trump Victory, the president's re-election PAC, accepts donations only from U.S. citizens and green card holders. The White House said Trump doesn't know Yang.


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