Questions Surround Miami Massage Mogul’s Role In Trump Photo Ops

Start your day with TPM.
Sign up for the Morning Memo newsletter

Two Chinese-born tech executives managed to pose for pictures with Trump at a paid dinner, possibly thanks to a deal with a South Florida massage magnate, the Miami Herald reported Thursday.

Li “Cindy” Yang reportedly ran a business that offered to link Chinese executives with President Trump and other Republican notables.

But one December 2017 fundraiser at a glitzy Manhattan restaurant raises questions about how the two Chinese tech execs managed to snap selfies with the President — particularly given that a photo with Trump at the event cost $50,000 a pop paid out to Trump Victory.

The Miami Herald reported that it was unable to find records that either of the two executives — Ryan Xu and Lucas Lu — donated to the committee. Given that neither of them are U.S. citizens, a contribution could have violated federal campaign finance’s law ban on foreign income.

The newspaper found that Yang and her “associates” contributed a total of $135,500 to Trump Victory in the weeks before the December 2017 dinner.

Yang would be within her rights to give away tickets for and photos at the event as gifts, but she could have strayed into legally questionable territory if she took money in exchange for giving non-U.S. citizens access to the event.

It’s not clear if Xu or Lu reimbursed Yang for the photo-op or for tickets to the fundraising dinner.

Yang denied in a series of interviews on Wednesday that she was selling access to Trump.

“I’m Republican and I’m Chinese,” she told NBC. “That’s the reason the Democrats want to check me.”

This isn’t the first time that questions about possible straw donors have swirled around a Trump-linked group. In August 2018, D.C. lobbyist W. Sam Patten admitted to arranging for a straw donor to buy tickets for four Ukrainian citizens to Trump’s inauguration while pleading guilty to failing to register as a foreign agent.

Latest Muckraker
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: