Offshore illegal GOP campaign megadonors receive record FEC fines after The Intercept reveals their crimes

Back in 2016, The Intercept ran a blockbuster series revealing how foreign businesspeople were illegally laundering massive campaign contributions to Jeb Bush and other GOP presidential hopefuls.

Yesterday, The Intercept's hard work paid off, with the FEC levying record fines against the people named in The Intercept's investigation: $550K to APIC (US affiliate of SingHaiyi Group, a Chinese-owned, Singapore-based real estate firm) and $390K to Right to Rise USA, overseen by the GOP superlawyer Charlie Spies.

What tripped up APIC and Right to Rise USA was a failure to follow the remaining weak restrictions on foreign participation in U.S. elections. According to the FEC, only American citizens may participate in the decision-making process regarding donations from a foreign-owned corporation such as APIC — leaving out foreign individuals such as Gordon Tang and Huaidan Chen.

However, The Intercept’s investigation revealed that the donations to Right to Rise USA were made under the direction of Gordon Tang. In an interview with The Intercept two years ago, Tang told us that his brother-in-law, Wilson Chen, had asked him to “donate, so I did, I don’t really mind.” Wilson, for his part, told us that the donation had been approved by APIC’s board, which included Tang and Chen.

In the course of its investigation, the FEC confirmed that Tang had engaged in “communications regarding the potential APIC contributions to Right to Rise.” The agency also obtained emails from early 2015 that show that Neil had contacted his fellow board members at APIC about providing financial support for his brother’s presidential campaign.

In one email, Neil wrote that Tang had “expressed interest in donating legally through APIC to my brother Jeb’s political action committee.” Huaidan Chen replied to the email with a message to Wilson Chen, noting, “Wilson, Gordon wants you to follow up this matter. Pls check with [APIC’s in-house counsel] and contact him by phone.”

Intercept Investigation Leads to Record Fines Over Foreign Campaign Contributions [Lee Fang/The Intercept]