A Trump inaugural ball with connections to China attracted thousands of dollars in donations that have since vanished, the Palm Beach Post reports. The Asian Pacific American Presidential Inaugural Gala—a lavish event that included live entertainment and buffet-style dinner—charged $75 or more per ticket and drew over 900 supporters at a Washington, DC, hotel in January 2017. (See photos here and video here.) Sponsors included a Chinese casino based on the remote US island of Saipan and two other businesses that all benefited from a 2018 labor bill signed into law by President Trump. What's more, former Trump campaign aide Jason Osborne, who helped organize the event, helped lobby for that bill, which enabled the sponsors to hire Filipino and Chinese workers for casino and hotel construction jobs.
The National Committee of Asian American Republicans hosted the event and reportedly raised a total of $100,000 to $300,000 from 20 listed sponsors, but no contributions were reported to the Federal Election Commission as required by law. Zhonggang "Cliff" Li—who heads the committee and organized the event with Osborne—tells the Post he knows what happened to the money, "but I don't want to tell you." The Boca Raton businessman is also associated with Cindy Yang, whose access to Mar-a-Lago and apparent links to the Chinese Communist Party have sparked calls for a federal investigation. Meanwhile, the Chinese casino in Saipan was raided by the FBI in 2017 and charged with hiring contractors who allegedly issued illegal tourist visas for workers, Bloomberg reported last year. (Read more Trump inauguration stories.)