Gov. Gary Locke says he won’t be returning campaign contributions he received from John Huang, a Democratic National Committee fund-raiser at the center of controversy in the nation’s capital.
Huang has been subpoenaed by Congress and is under investigation by the FBI for his part in soliciting more than $1 million in donations that were inappropriate or illegal because they came from foreign sources.
Locke is keeping the money because Huang’s contributions and the events he organized and attended for the Washington state governor-to-be last year were legal, Bill Marler, chairman of Locke’s campaign finance committee, told The Seattle Times.
The funds included $1,000 donated to the campaign by Huang and his wife, Jane, last summer and $19,000 from two events he organized to raise money for Locke in California.
In addition, Huang attended fundraisers for Locke in New York and Washington, D.C., and three other political events that Locke also attended, Marler said.
All told, Locke raised $2.2 million, including about $388,000 from outside the state, on his way to becoming the nation’s first Chinese-American governor.
Huang’s job at the Democratic National Committee last year was raising money from Asians. A comparison of his files and Locke’s campaign records indicated that none of the Asian-American or foreign business leaders who gave money to the national party organization made separate contributions to the state gubernatorial candidate - with perhaps one exception.
The party returned $253,500 late last year to Pauline Kanchanalak, a Thai business operator in the Washington, D.C., area, after she denied giving the money and said it came from her mother-in-law, Praitun Kanchanalak.
Locke aides said a $1,000 check from P. Kanchanalak in McLean, Va., was a legal contribution from the mother-in-law and would not be returned, even if he donation was made at Huang’s request.
“From my perspective, the fact that Huang gave us $1,000 or Praitun Kanchanalak gave us $1,000 among 9,115 other contributors had no influence in the campaign and certainly won’t have any influence on what Gary is going to do or not going to do,” Marler told The Times.