Smoky Mountains Sunrise

Monday, September 19, 2011

Couple Indicted for Illegal Donations to Graham

Campaign denies knowledge of illegal donations funneled from German businessman.

By Adam Crisp

A Mount Pleasant business owner faces a multi-count federal indictment for a scheme to donate thousands of dollars in illegal campaign money to the re-election campaign of U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham.

Federal authorities allege in April indictments that were unsealed Monday that Jian-Yun “John” Dong took more than $30,000 from a German national and funneled the money through illegal sources from 2007-09 to support Graham’s re-election campaign.

He also used money from the German businessman to make donations to the Graham’s political action committee Fund for America’s Future.

Graham’s campaign on Monday said they have cooperated with investigators and they noted that in the indictment it notes that the campaign was not aware of the violations.

“Campaign officials met with authorities in October 2010 and provided information pertinent to the investigation,” said Thad Westbrook, treasurer of Lindsey Graham for Senate and Fund for America’s Future. “Our campaign has and will continue to cooperate fully with the investigation."

Dong and his estranged wife, Danher Wang, reportedly donated beyond the maximum federal limits to both Graham and the PAC in 2007 and 2008.

Then, to satisfy a promise to raise $25,000 for Graham’s campaign, the couple then took money from the German businessman, identified only as “R.H.” in the indictment, and had employees and minor children make donations to the PAC and Graham’s campaign, according to the indictment.

In the seven-count election fraud indictment, both Dong and Wang face maximum sentences of five years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine for each count of campaign finance fraud. And Dong faces an additional maximum sentence of 20 years for witness tampering charges.

Using the so-called “conduits” violates federal law, but it kept donations below amounts that would have alerted Graham’s campaign or the Federal Election Commission to the violations.

Dong also faces a 36-count indictment for allegedly spending roughly $4 million in federal grant money meant for pharmaceutical research on improper business and personal expenses.

Dong is president of the pharmaceutical company GenPhar, which was developing vaccines for viruses such as Ebola and Marburg for the U.S. military. The investigation of that impropriety apparently uncovered the illegal campaign donations.

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