- The Washington Times - Monday, December 13, 1999

The House Government Reform Committee, whose efforts to investigate the wide-ranging campaign-finance scandal involving the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Clinton-Gore re-election campaign have been relentlessly impeded in its work. Soon, however, the committee will finally hear testimony from John Huang, the man at the center of the scandal. Last month, the committee voted unanimously to grant immunity to Huang, who is expected to testify this week.
In a sweetheart plea agreement with the Justice Department that resulted in one year of probation, a $10,000 fine and 500 hours of community service, Huang pleaded guilty to violating federal election laws by making $7,500 in illegal contributions, all of which was unrelated to the 1996 campaign. Vowing to determine if Huang was “part of a conspiracy to make illegal contributions in 1995 and 1996 while he was DNC fund-raiser,” Chairman Dan Burton found it “disturbing” to learn that “the Justice Department didn’t even mention Huang’s involvement in the 1996 fund-raising scandal” in the plea agreement. Disturbing, to say the least.
As the DNC’s vice chairman of finance, Huang raised about $3 million for the 1996 campaign. More than half of that was eventually returned because the ultimate sources of the funds were either highly questionable or patently illegal. Among the most outrageous donations was the $450,000 contributed by an Indonesian couple, Arief and Soraya Wiriadinata, whose father was a major partner in the Riady-controlled Lippo Group, a $6 billion Indonesia-based conglomerate that had extensive dealings, including joint ventures, with the Chinese Communist government and the People’s Liberation Army.
In addition to investigating the conspiracy issue, Mr. Burton will also seek to determine why Huang received classified CIA briefings on China while he was at Commerce, even though his ties to Lippo prohibited him from having any dealings with issues regarding China. There will also undoubtedly be questions for Huang about his numerous telephone calls and faxes to Lippo during the period he was receiving these briefings.
It would also be worth knowing what role Huang played in securing a $100,000 Lippo consulting contract for former Associate Attorney General Webster Hubbell at the very moment Hubbell was committed to cooperating with independent counsel Kenneth Starr. Interestingly, Hubbell received the Lippo contract one month after Mr. Clinton announced a major policy reversal long sought by Mr. Riady, the delinking of human rights in China and Most Favored Nation trading status.
Mr. Burton will also be asking Huang about reports that he told Justice Department task force investigators that he and Mr. Riady arranged in 1992 as part of an illegal scheme to raise $1 million to have “hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions” funneled through Lippo Group employees and subsidiaries to the Clinton campaign.
Perhaps Huang can also explain his wife’s role in corralling the first donations from the Wiriadinatas, who eventually became the DNC’s largest individual contributors. On Nov. 8, three days after receiving a $500,000 wire transfer from Indonesia, the Wiriadinatas donated $30,000 to the DNC. Because it would have been illegal for Huang to solicit the $30,000 donation while still an official at Commerce his transfer to the DNC did not become effective until Dec. 4 the DNC hilariously claimed the contribution was solicited by Huang’s wife, Jane.
Then there is the matter of the DNC-sponsored White House coffee on Dec. 15, 1995, which Arief Wiriadinata attended. (Three days earlier, the Wiriadinatas ponied up another $100,000.) Perhaps Huang can shed some light on what precisely Arief meant when he greeted the president at the coffee by saying, “James Riady sent me.” Here’s a guess: Mr. Riady wanted Mr. Clinton to know that the Riady family had begun delivering substantial sums to the DNC at the very moment Mr. Clinton was most desperate to finance the DNC’s $45 million advertising blitz on behalf of the president’s re-election campaign. We can hardly wait to hear Huang’s explanation.

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