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Taiwan Civil Government push for Trump influence began before 2016 election

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Justice Department disclosure reports filed under the Foreign Agent Registration Act reveal that the Taiwan Civil Government push for influence with the Trump White House began before the 2016 election. Shelley Hymes, a well-connected Washington public relations consultant, had previously been identified as joining the TCG payroll shortly after the election of Donald Trump. However, an overlooked FARA Supplemental Report discloses that Hymes actually went to work for TCG in May 2016.

Political fraud indictments of Roger and Julian Lin and other TCG leaders in Taiwan have triggered interest in spending by the advocacy group in Washington. Taiwan's seven decades of unresolved international status have spawned a plethora of groups and organizations trying to find a way to sovereignty. Taiwan Civil Government is one of the most well-funded and vocal of the groups trying to lead Taiwan into the future. Three of those arrested, including the Lins, remain imprisoned, held incommunicado in solitary confinement and without bail.

Taiwan is currently ruled by the exiled Republic of China, a holdover from World War II. The United States Navy landed ROC troops on what was then called Formosa in 1945 to process surrendering Japanese soldiers. The outbreak of the Cold War and the defeat of the ROC during the Chinese civil war in 1949 left the exiled Kuomintang regime of Chiang Kia-shek in charge of the island. TCG seeks American assistance to oust the ROC from power and needs the support of the President to achieve its goal.

A review of Justice Department files shows Shelley Hymes was paid a grand total of $244,904.74 since the election of Trump, including a trip to Taiwan in the summer of 2017. Hymes is a longtime friend of Kellyanne Conway, Counselor to the President. Hymes was also paid a hefty $83,963.71 before the election, when Conway was Trump's campaign manager. All told, Hymes, or her company Angel Enterprises, received $328,868.45 from TCG from May 2016 until the fall of 2017.

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Neil Hare, TCG lobbyist and registered Foreign Agent, has not yet filed a required six-month spending report for TCG since October 2017, so the amount paid Hymes since then is unknown. Hare's contract with TCG has his 2018 payment set at $560,000.00. When the lobbying fees, advertising, media sponsorships, junkets, litigation, and event hosting are added together, TCG has dropped several million dollars in Washington in the last two years. While the Washington events are standard practice for a group trying to gain influence, ROC prosecutors think otherwise and claim the TCG public relations campaign was merely part of an elaborate hoax to encourage donors to part with their money. Taiwanese news reports included mention of unnamed, unindicted Washington co-conspirators.

ROC prosecutors are alleging political fraud by the Lins to the tune of $25.8 million. However, the heavy spending in Washington and Taiwan to advance the TCG agenda of ousting the ROC does not suggest fraudulent activity. Prosecutors claim 315 donors were deceived into donating to the group. Meanwhile, the English-language news media continues to ignore an emerging and important crime story that is shrouded by the strategic ambiguity that surrounds Taiwan's international status, leaving three people looking very much like political prisoners.

 

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Michael Richardson is a freelance writer living in Belize. Richardson writes about Taiwan foreign policy, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Black Panther Party. Richardson was Ralph Nader's ballot access manager during the 2004 and (more...)
 

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