House Speaker Newt Gingrich said Saturday the Clinton administration’s association with an Indonesian banking family is a scandal that makes Watergate pale by comparison.
The administration’s dealings with the Riady family and its financial and real estate conglomerate, the Lippo Group, is “a scandal that has historic implications,” the Republican lawmaker said at a rally in his north Atlanta congressional district.
“It makes Watergate look trivial,” said Gingrich. “We have never in American history had an American president selling pieces of this country to foreigners.”
The Riadys are investors in Arkansas’ Worthen Bank, which made a loan to Clinton’s presidential campaign in 1992. John Huang, a former Worthen vice president who now works for the Democratic National Committee, has raised an estimated $4 million to $5 million from Asian-Americans for the Democrats this year, according to The Washington Post.
Arief and Soraya Wiriadinata, an Indonesian couple with ties to the Lippo Group, gave $425,000 this year, one of the largest donations the party has received in this election cycle.
Party officials said the couple donated the money after meeting with Huang, who was an assistant secretary of commerce before joining the DNC as a fund-raiser specializing in Asian-American contributions.
White House press secretary Mike McCurry was asked Friday about the propriety of contributions to the Democratic Party from the Riady family and its associates.
McCurry said the Riadys are a prominent family in Little Rock, with extensive commercial dealings there.
“They got to know a lot of people within the community,” McCurry said.
“Then-Governor Clinton obviously got to know James Riady. And the fact that they became friendly and that they are supporters of the president should come as no surprise.”