NEW: After President Trump said there were "very fine people on both sides" of the white nationalist march in Charlottesville, charities pulled out of Mar-a-Lago.
This opened the doors for Cindy Yang and others to market events for their access to Trump: https://t.co/rGbcKAAYXR
— Miami Herald (@MiamiHerald) March 29, 2019
Remember Warren G. Harding? He was a self-professed “man of limited talents” boosted into the Presidency by the Republican Party as the polar opposite to replace the Democrat’s distant, cerebral, League-of-Nations proponent Woodrow Wilson. Until recently, Harding’s Teapot Dome Scandal was considered the ultimate conflation of political and business corruption. But just in time for its centennial:
… Yang’s invitations to Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s private club and resort, started coming after high society’s post-Charlottesville exodus. She helped promote the cobbled-together replacement galas, selling them online as opportunities for Chinese businessmen to gain face time with the Trump family.
On Chinese social media, Safari Night became a “midnight carnival” of the American social and political elite and an important networking opportunity for businessmen from overseas. Seats were marked up from the original $600 to $1,000. The ads also offered VIP packages for overnight stays at Mar-a-Lago — $10,000 for two nights, with spa and golf course access, according to one post from a member of a local Asian-American political group.
Dozens of people associated with her Asian-American political group turned out. Yang also recruited guests through her nonprofit group, Women’s Charity Foundation Inc. One of the group’s guests impressed the crowd by plunking down $40,000 for a pair of paintings, with the proceeds going to charity, according to a post on the foundation’s WeChat page that was later removed…
In both years prior to Charlottesville, Mar-a-Lago hosted 33 events, according to the Herald’s analysis of the Palm Beach Daily News’ social events calendar. It dropped to 10 events in the season after Charlottesville…
Selling access to private events is not new, and foreign nationals are not barred from giving contributions to private foundations or nonprofits as they are from giving to U.S. political campaigns.
But experts say Trump’s presidency is unique, and Mar-a-Lago in particular provides unprecedented levels of access…
A cottage industry of influence peddling
… Yang and Lee are not alone in their efforts to capitalize on their access to the Trump family. According to a Herald analysis of Chinese social media and classified advertisements, at least five other groups are marketing Trump-related tours to Chinese elites.
“This may be the highest-level invitation you’ll receive at this stage in your life,” one Chinese-language ad declared. Though most ads promoted events at Mar-a-Lago, a few marketed access through political fundraisers with Trump across the country…