A Senate committee investigating campaign finance irregularities is looking into why a Hong Kong clothing exporter who can’t legally make campaign contributions attended two fund-raisers for President Clinton, Newsweek reported.
The Senate Governmental Affairs Committee has been interviewing Stephen Lau’s U.S. business partner, New Yorker Tom Nastos, about $70,000 in contributions he made to the Democratic Party after bringing Lau to fundraisers in 1995 and 1996, the newsmagazine said in its issue appearing on newsstands Monday.
Newsweek also said Lau was the target of a seven-year investigation by U.S. Customs, which suspected that Lau and his company, Synergy Sport International, cheated the agency by falsifying import documents.
In 1995, he and an American partner paid a $3 million penalty to settle the case without admitting guilt, Newsweek said.
Soon after Lau paid that penalty, Newsweek said, Nastos brought Lau and his wife to a fund-raising dinner at which Lau had a picture taken shaking Clinton’s hand.
On the same day, a New York company headed by Nastos contributed $50,000 to the Democrats, Newsweek said, and Nastos told the magazine he made the contribution to get Lau and himself into the dinner. A noncitizen, Lau cannot legally make political contributions in the United States.
Nastos paid another $20,000 10 months later, about the time he and Lau attended the second fund-raiser, Newsweek said.
The magazine reported that one government official who could lose from any scandal involving Lau is Rita Hayes, nominated by Clinton to be ambassador to the World Trade Organization.
Hayes raised eyebrows last winter in Beijing when she allowed William Houston, former chief textile negotiator then working as a private consultant, to attend a private briefing for American lobbyists on the status of talks over a complex textile treaty, Newsweek said.