A new connection has emerged between Donald Trump and the owner of an infamous Florida spa at the center of a sex trafficking controversy, with a report claiming that Li “Cindy” Yang orchestrated a series of potentially illegal donations straight from her employees to Trump’s campaign.
Yang was the founder of a Florida spa where New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft was busted for allegedly paying for sex services. Though Yang had previously sold that spa location, she still operates a series of spas that are identified online as fronts for prostitution and advertised for the spa on her Facebook page. Yang had been photographed sitting next to Trump at a Super Bowl party earlier this year and had ties to a number of other top Republicans, as she ran a company that offered access to top Trump officials to Chinese business leaders for a top fee.
A new report from The New York Times has uncovered a new link, finding that at least nine of Yang’s associates donated exactly $5,400 to Trump’s campaign, the limit for personal contributions. As the report noted, the associates included a 25-year-old beauty school employee and another associate who was charged in the prostitution bust aimed at her former business.
One of those who made a contribution, a receptionist named Bingbing Peranio, told The New York Times that Yang helped her fill out the check for the donation.
“I can’t say she was pushing me or not pushing me, but I worked there then,” Peranio said, but did not say if she was reimbursed for the payment.
Despite not voting for a decade, Mar-a-Lago patron Li Yang has become a fixture at high-level Republican events https://t.co/aCY5j3zkBj
— The Economist (@TheEconomist) March 15, 2019
As Business Insider noted, any reimbursement to the employees for the campaign donations would be illegal, as it would skirt around rules for individual contributions.
After images emerged of Trump sitting with Yang at the Super Bowl party, the White House released a statement saying that Trump did not know Yang personally. Trump did issue a statement saying he felt bad for Kraft’s arrest and noted that the Patriots owner maintained his innocence.
But Yang has been able to foster some very close connections to Donald Trump. A report from Mother Jones noted that Yang operated a company called GY US Investments, which offered access to top officials at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort. A website for the company advertised that it was able to arrange for several clients to rub elbows with Trump’s family at their recent New Year’s Eve dinner, though Trump himself remained in Washington during the government shutdown.