Com­merce pick Locke has ties to China cash

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY BILL GERTZ AND JERRY SEPER

Com­merce Sec­re­tary nom­i­nee Gary Locke, whose job would in­clude ap­prov­ing sen­si­tive ex­ports to China, has per­formed le­gal work for com­pa­nies do­ing busi­ness with Bei­jing and was forced to re­fund sev­eral po­lit­i­cal do­na­tions that he re­ceived in the 1990s from key fig­ures in a Chi­nese in­flu­ence-buy­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Mr. Locke was the first Chi­nese-Amer­i­can to be­come gov­er­nor when Wash­ing­ton state vot­ers elected him in 1996, and he served two terms. Since leav­ing the gov­er­nor’s man­sion in 2005, Mr. Locke has been work­ing with the Seat­tle law firm of Davis Wright Tre­maine LLP as part of its China prac­tice, which has offices in Shang­hai.

On its Web page, www.dwt.com, the law firm says it has rep­re­sented sev­eral staterun Chi­nese com­pa­nies, in­clud­ing China East­ern Air­lines, Shang­hai Air­lines and China Ship­ping as well as the Bank of China, BankOne, Boe­ing Co., Freight­liner, Ford Mo­tor Co., Gen­eral Elec­tric Cap­i­tal Corp. and Microsoft Corp.

John A. Shaw, who held se­nior posts at the De­fense, State and Com­merce de­part­ments over­see­ing ex­port con­trols and tech­nol­ogy trans­fers from 1992 to 2004, said se­na­tors should ques­tion nom­i­nees about their past fundrais­ing and views on high­tech­nol­ogy trans­fers to na­tions such as China.

“Com­merce has to­tal con­trol over all dual-use tech­nol­ogy and if there is a de­ci­sion to open the com­mer­cial flood­gates to China, Locke will be able to steam­roll any mil­i­tary con­cerns com­ing from State and De­fense,” Mr. Shaw said in an in­ter­view.

Mean­while, Pres­i­dent Obama on March 17 is­sued a waiver of a 1999 de­fense ex­port-con­trol law that will al­low the trans­fer of U.S. high-tech­nol­ogy goods to China. Mr. Obama stated in a no­tice to Congress that fine-grain graphite and air­craft com­pos­ite gear will not “mea­sur­ably im­prove [China’s] mis­sile and space launch ca­pa­bil­i­ties.”

Cab­i­net trou­bles

Mr. Locke de­clined to com­ment while his nom­i­na­tion is pend­ing. White House spokesman Ben LaBolt said Mr. Locke pre­dom­i­nately worked for law clients who were U.S. com­pa­nies do­ing busi­ness in China and the ad­min­is­tra­tion is con­fi­dent he can avoid any con­flicts of in­ter­ests.

“As gov­er­nor of the state of Wash­ing­ton and later as an at­tor­ney rep­re­sent­ing U.S. com­pa­nies, Gary Locke opened mar­kets and cre­ated op­por­tu­ni­ties for Amer­i­can busi­nesses over­seas — crit­i­cal ex­pe­ri­ence for any com­merce sec­re­tary,” Mr. LaBolt said.

“We are con­fi­dent that Gov­er­nor Locke will be able to con­tinue to ad­vo­cate on be­half of Amer­i­can busi­nesses and work­ers while at the same time ad­her­ing to the ad­min­is­tra­tion´s ethics pol­icy,” he said.

As for the Clin­ton-era do­na­tions that Mr. Locke re­ceived from sources con­nected to the Chi­nese in­flu­ence-ped­dling in­ves­ti­ga­tion, Mr. LaBolt said the nom­i­nee had long since re­funded the money and was never im­pli­cated in any wrong­do­ing by con­gres­sional or Jus­tice Depart­ment in­ves­ti­ga­tors.

Mr. Locke is Mr. Obama’s third choice for com­merce sec­re­tary. New Mex­ico Gov. Bill Richardson, a Demo­crat, with­drew from con­sid­er­a­tion af­ter it was re­vealed that a grand jury is in­ves­ti­gat­ing il­le­gal con­tract­ing in the state, and Sen. Judd Gregg, New Hamp­shire Repub­li­can, with­drew over pol­icy dis­putes with the ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Mr. Locke is not a reg­is­tered lob­by­ist at Davis Wright, but the firm has made mil­lions lob­by­ing for sev­eral U.S. com­pa­nies and also is reg­is­tered as a for­eign lob­by­ist.

Bad com­pany

Ed­ward Tim­per­lake, a for­mer con­gres­sional in­ves­ti­ga­tor who worked on the 1990s fundrais­ing probe, said the Se­nate should ex­am­ine Mr. Locke’s ties to fundrais­ers like John Huang, Ted Sio­eng and oth­ers who were iden­ti­fied dur­ing the 1990s in­ves­ti­ga­tion. That probe looked into whether Chi­nese gov­ern­ment cash was il­le­gally routed into Demo­cratic cof­fers dur­ing Pres­i­dent Clin­ton’s 1996 re-elec­tion cam­paign.

“The play­ers con­nected to any ex­am­i­na­tion of Locke and his con­fir­ma­tion are Triad gang­sters and Chi­nese mil­i­tary agents,” Mr. Tim­per­lake said in an in­ter­view.

The Pen­tagon’s last an­nual re­port on China’s mil­i­tary warned that China “con­tin­ues a sys­tem­atic ef­fort to ob­tain dual-use and mil­i­tary tech­nolo­gies from abroad through le­gal and il­le­gal com­mer­cial trans­ac­tions.” It stated that Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment rated China’s ag­gres­sive and wide-rang­ing es­pi­onage as “the lead­ing threat to U.S. tech­nol­ogy.”

Mr. Huang was a Chi­ne­se­born em­ployee of In­done­sia’s Lippo Bank, who went to work for the Com­merce Depart­ment and also be­came a ma­jor Demo- cratic Party fundraiser, col­lect­ing $3.4 mil­lion — nearly half of which had to be re­turned to donors be­cause of sus­pi­cions that the money came from the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment.

He spon­sored sev­eral fundrais­ers for Mr. Locke in 1996, rais­ing more than $30,000.

Mr. Huang pleaded guilty in 1999 in a deal with U.S. pros­e­cu­tors to il­le­gally giv­ing $2,500 to Los An­ge­les may­oral can­di­date Michael Woo in 1993 and $5,000 to a Cal­i­for­nia po­lit­i­cal group that raised money for Demo­cratic candidates. Mr. Locke’s do­na­tions were not men­tioned in the court case.

Mr. Sio­eng, an In­done­sian busi­ness­man who has ties to the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment, also sup­plied funds to Mr. Locke through in­ter­me­di­aries, ac­cord­ing to a con­gres­sional re­port on the cam­paign fi­nance in­ves­ti­ga­tion. Mr. Sio­eng fled the U.S. in the 1990s af­ter the FBI be­gan in­ves­ti­gat­ing.

He was never for­mally charged in the case, but con­gres­sional tes­ti­mony from se­nior U.S. in­tel­li­gence and law en­force­ment of­fi­cials, in­clud­ing At­tor­ney Gen­eral Janet Reno and FBI Di­rec­tor Louis J. Freeh, iden­ti­fied him as a Chi­nese agent. They told a Se­nate com­mit­tee that there was cred­i­ble in­tel­li­gence that Mr. Sio­eng acted on be­half of China to in­flu­ence U.S. elec­tions with cam­paign con­tri­bu­tions.

A spokesman for Mr. Sio­eng de­nied the al­le­ga­tions at the time.

Records show Mr. Sio­eng’s bank ac­count got wire trans­fers of more than $2 mil­lion from two Hong Kong hold­ing com­pa­nies at the same time that he was con­tribut­ing to Mr. Clin­ton’s re-elec­tion cam­paign.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Con­nec­tions in ques­tion: Ex-Wash­ing­ton Gov. Gary Locke works at a Seat­tle law firm with offices and clients in China.

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