Hillary Clinton met Chinese billionaire Wang Wenliang, whose involvement with Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe is at the center of an FBI investigation, during a Sept. 30, 2013 fundraiser at her home in Washington D.C., according to an explosive new report from Time.
Less than a month after that fundraiser, in which Clinton and Wang reportedly shook hands, the businessman made a $500,000 donation to the Clinton Foundation. He would end up giving a total of $2 million to the Clinton charity, which is a major source of controversy for the Democratic presidential front-runner.
McAuliffe, who served as a director on the Clinton Global Initiative, was running for office when he invited Wenliang to the Beltway fundraiser. Attended by about 100 people, the event was held three weeks after one of Wang’s companies, West Legend Corp., gave a $60,000 contribution to McAuliffe’s successful campaign. A total of $120,000 in contributions would flow from the company to McAuliffe’s campaign coffers.
Longtime Clinton consultants James Carville and Paul Begala attended the event. John Podesta, Clinton’s current campaign chairman, was also present.
Wang also met twice with former President Bill Clinton, once in the U.S. and once in China, according to Time.
CNN reported earlier this week that the FBI and Justice Department’s public integrity unit are investigating McAuliffe for campaign contributions he received from Wang. But McAuliffe’s attorney told reporters on Wednesday that investigators are looking into whether the former Democratic National Committee chairman properly registered as a lobbyist under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
Lobbyists who work on behalf of foreign entities are required to register the activity with the Justice Department. McAuliffe does not work for a lobbying firm, but he is perhaps the Democrats’ most prolific fundraiser.
Besides exposing shady fundraising activities involving a Chinese businessman seeking favors from American politicians — which is all reminiscent of a controversy during the 1990s involving Chinese nationals illegally donating to the Democratic National Committee — Wang’s meeting with Clinton and her longtime allies poses another problem for McAuliffe. It further undermines a claim he made on Monday that he was “not even sure” that he had met Wang.
But it’s clear that McAuliffe knows Wang.
That claim first came under scrutiny on Tuesday when former South Carolina Gov. Jim Hodges, a lobbyist for McGuireWoods Consulting, said that he introduced Wang and McAuliffe.
A lawyer for Wang’s company gave an interview in 2012 in which he said that for some companies in certain industries, lobbying state governments is a better strategy than lobbying federal agencies or lawmakers.
During an interview on Wednesday McAuliffe said that he had had “under 10 minutes” of conversations with Wang, who previously served as a delegate for China’s People’s National Congress.
Besides the meeting at Clinton’s house, Wang and McAuliffe reportedly met at least two other times.
One was held in Richmond, Va. after McAuliffe was elected governor. During the meeting Wang discussed the expansion of a soybean agreement between the state of Virginia and Wang’s company.
Soybeans were also the topic of discussion during a third meeting between Wang and McAuliffe. That meeting appears to be the one arranged by Hodges, the lobbyist and former governor of South Carolina. Wang’s company, Dandong Port Co., has paid Hodges’ company $1.5 million since 2012 to lobby Congress on various issues.
This article initially stated that the fundraiser was held at Clinton’s home in Chappaqua, N.Y. The event was actually held at her Washington D.C. residence.