Huang's Fund-raising Big Help To Dems
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Oct. 22) -- When Republican demonstrators picketed the Democratic National Committee (DNC) office this week, one of them carried a sign that said, "Where's Huang?" The sign was a reference to John Huang, the man at the center of the imbroglio over Democratic fund-raising in the Asian American community. But the better question might have been, "Who's Huang?"
Outside Democratic campaign finance circles, Huang is little known. A CNN camera crew caught up with Huang on his way to work recently, but he wasn't talking. Huang isn't raising money any more, either: the DNC has taken him off that assignment so he can prepare for a Federal Election Commission investigation.
Huang raised an estimated $4 million to $5 million for the Democrats this year. But his work became an issue after word surfaced about an "Indonesian connection" that brought hundreds of thousands of dollars to Bill Clinton and the Democrats from people associated with the Lippo conglomerate of Jakarta, Indonesia. Huang also organized the Buddhist temple fund-raiser attended by Vice President Al Gore.
Huang, 46, was born in China, but grew up in Taiwan and attended the University of Connecticut. He became a U.S. citizen in 1976. Before joining the DNC, Huang was a deputy assistant secretary for trade in the Commerce Department and before that, he headed Lippo's U.S. affiliate. His banking career also included a stint as vice president at the Worthen Bank in Little Rock, Ark.
Since questions arose about the Indonesian connections, Republican Bob Dole has criticized the Democrats and called for new restrictions on fund-raising. Democrats say it's a desperate attempt to inject some life into a flagging campaign.
In a related move, a federal judge today ordered U.S. marshals to serve a subpoena on Huang in a civil lawsuit filed by the conservative group Judicial Watch Inc. against the federal Commerce Department.
The group wants to question Huang on whether the agency used trade missions to raise money for the Democrats.
The flap also has provoked concern in the Asian-American community that it will lead to "Asian-bashing" and unjustified scrutiny of perfectly legal contributions from Asian-Americans.
At a Capitol Hill news conference Tuesday, several Asian-American leaders said they feared that Asian-Americans who contribute would be seen a foreigners trying to influence U.S. policy.
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