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Did Huang Violate The Hatch Act?

WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Feb. 18) -- Suggesting a possible violation of the Hatch Act, records show former Democratic National Committee (DNC) fund-raiser John Huang raised more than $150,000 before officially leaving his post at the Commerce Department.


The Hatch Act prohibits federal employees from raising political funds, even during unpaid leaves of absence. Huang officially resigned from Commerce Jan. 17, 1996, and records obtained by congressional investigators and the Justice Department show he was raising funds for the DNC before that.

Huang requested leave without pay from Commerce from Dec. 4, 1995, through Jan. 16, 1996. DNC donor records show Huang was in Hartford, Conn., on Dec. 8 and in California on Dec. 11. He solicited $11,000 from California businessman on Ben Tang Dec. 15, the same day he was in Dallas for an Asian American Hotel Owners Association meeting.

Ten days after joining the DNC, Huang brought in a $90,000 donation from an Indonesian couple who live near Washington, D.C. About the same time, he raised $50,000 from a Connecticut donor. On Jan. 17, the day his Commerce resignation took effect, Huang raised $5,000 from the American Trading Corp., located in Sands Point, N.Y.

"If you hold a government position and you go on leave without pay, you are still covered by the Hatch Act," William Reukauf of the Office of Special Counsel, an agency that enforces the Hatch Act, told The Associated Press. "It's only when you resign that position are the Hatch Act restrictions lifted."

Huang is a major focus of several investigations into Democratic fund-raising practices. At issue is whether he illegally raised funds from non-U.S. citizens, and whether he broke laws by raising funds while a government employee.

By Huang's account, he resigned from the Commerce Department Dec. 4. Commerce spokeswoman Maria Cardona told the AP that Huang's official resignation may have been delayed until Jan. 17 because of the 1995 government shutdown, saying, "People were not around to process the appropriate paperwork."

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