John Huang has described a desire to "serve… to be humble. We should be like the
willow tree – The higher it grows, the lower it bends." One could ask who Huang
wanted to serve – the U.S. democratic party or the Chinese government.
A major figure in the Democratic National Committee fundraising scandal in 1996, Huang was also suspected of passing U.S. government secrets to China -- through the Lippo Group -- while serving in President Bill Clinton’s Commerce Department.
Huang worked at several American banks before meeting Mochtar Riady, who along with his son, James, headed the Lippo Group, a highly-profitable Indonesian conglomerate half-owned by the Chinese government, at a financial seminar in Little Rock in 1980.
Huang was later hired by James Riady's Worthen Banking Group in Little Rock where he worked and socialized with a number of friends and associates of Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton. Worthen was a joint venture between Riady and Jackson Stephens, a billionaire finance tycoon and Clinton’s largest contributor throughout his political career.
Huang eventually moved to Los Angeles to run the Lippo Bank, U.S.A. Just after the move, Huang became active in Democratic politics, largely at James Riady's urging.
Within weeks of Clinton's 1992 victory, Riady persuaded Clinton to give Huang, who had also been a prolific fundraiser, a job in his Administration. On Dec. 30, 1993, Clinton named Huang deputy assistant secretary for international economic affairs at the Commerce Department, responsible for Asian trade matters. Huang took a 50 percent pay cut from his Lippo salary, but the blow was softened by a severance package worth $788,750.
Huang was given a top-secret security clearance within a month, even though it was not until July 1994 that he could leave Lippo and move to Commerce. His clearance wasn’t revoked until a year after he left.
While a mid-level Commerce Department official, Huang enjoyed extraordinary access to Clinton. He attended dozens of briefings involving classified information, even as he maintained ties to the Lippo Group, whose joint venture partner is China Resources Holdings, a trading and holding company owned by the Chinese communist government and used as a front for Chinese espionage operations. The timing of his calls to Lippo -- sometimes soon after top secret briefings or the receipt of classified documents –prompted a congressional inquiry into whether Huang was giving government secrets to his former employer.
Records show that Huang made 70 calls to former Lippo colleagues while he was at Commerce. He also maintained steady contacts with Chinese diplomats and officials at meetings and receptions throughout his tenure. The Commerce Department has identified 109 meetings in 1994 and 1995 attended by Huang and at which classified information might have been discussed.
Huang himself may have had a direct financial relationship with the Chinese government, according to unverified information shared with the Senate committee investigating illegal campaign contributions.
Huang was also instrumental in representing China’s trade interests. In late 1994, the administration began pushing for renewal of China's most-favored-nation trade status. But it was encountering fierce opposition from human rights groups because of China's record of abuses. Huang was assigned to lobby four members of Congress, and he reported back a day later that all would support the MFN renewal.
Huang’s influence among ethnic groups made him a potent fund-raiser. In 1995, Clinton had Huang appointed to a key fundraising post at the Democratic National Committee. In 1996, Huang raised $3.4 million for the party, mostly from the Asian American community. The DNC was forced to return nearly half of the money, determining that it was improperly raised or came from questionable donors, some of them from overseas.
Huang’s own $45,000 in DNC contributions were made near occasions when he reportedly arranged for Vice President Gore to meet Shen Jueren, head of a commercial enterprise wholly owned and operated by the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation. Called China Resources Holdings, Shen’s company has been identified as a Chinese-intelligence gathering operation controlled by the People’s Liberation Army.
On August 12, 1999, Huang pleaded guilty to a felony conspiracy charge for violating campaign finance laws and was sentenced to one year of probation. He was also ordered by U.S. District Court to pay a $10,000 fine and serve 500 hours of community service. Prosecutors said Huang was responsible for arranging about $156,000 in illegal campaign contributions from Lippo Group employees to the Democratic Party.
What remains unclear to congressional and Justice Department investigators, however, is precisely where the money Huang raised came from. Many of Huang's contacts were neither U.S. citizens nor residents and were ineligible to contribute.
Huang has insisted that he neither worked as an agent of an Indonesian conglomerate while a Commerce Department official nor laundered money later while with the Democratic National Committee.
- http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/special/campfin/stories/huang0513.htm< /li>
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