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Sunday, May 24, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Democrats File Financial Report Biggest Single Contributor Says Contributions Should Be Illegal

By Connie Cass Associated Press

The Democratic Party filed its tardy financial report Friday, showing it refunded an improper $10,000 contribution from a South Korean businessman. It was raised by John Huang, the fundraiser at the center of controversies over foreign-linked donations, a spokeswoman said.

The report also records the largest donation in a single chunk from a contributor this year - $500,000 from a retired executive who says campaign contributions should be illegal.

The Democratic National Committee filed its pre-election accounting of contributions and spending with the Federal Election Commission after its original plan to skip the report raised an outcry from Republicans and watchdog groups.

The filing showed an Oct. 16 refund of a $10,000 contribution from Kyung Hoon Lee, a South Korean national and chairman of Cheong Am America Inc., the recently established subsidiary of a South Korean electronics company.

Last month, the DNC returned a $250,000 contribution from Cheong Am America after The Los Angeles Times questioned whether the money really came from its South Korean parent, and the party verified that it did.

Only corporate income generated in the United States can be used to make campaign contributions. DNC officials have removed Huang from fund-raising duties and requested an FEC investigation of several donations linked to foreign companies.

DNC spokeswoman Amy Weiss Tobe said Lee’s contribution was returned as soon as it was discovered. She said the party had initially searched its records for Lee under another name he often uses, John Lee.

“He does not have a green card or a citizenship, so he cannot give,” Tobe said. “Our fund-raiser did not ask the right questions and we had no notion the contribution was illegal.”

Among the contributions listed in the 2,000-page report was a $500,000 gift from Arnold Hiatt, former chairman of the Stride Rite shoe company. He now runs the Stride Rite Foundation, an independent, charitable foundation that aids inner-city children in Boston.

“I think the kind of contribution I made should be outlawed and that’s why I did it,” Hiatt said in a telephone interview, explaining that he hoped Democrats would regain control of Congress and pass campaign reforms.

Hiatt, who has supported Democratic candidates but never made such a large contribution before, said he wanted to help Democrats regain control of Congress and believes they will work for campaign finance reform.

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