Posts tagged with "Miami Herald"

A Florida spa owner and ‘investment adviser’ has been selling access to the Trumps at Mar-a-Lago

March 12, 2019

Mother Jones published a skanky scoop on March 9 involving the president, his family—and a conniving Florida-based entrepreneur who set up a pay-to-play scheme that enabled Chinese executives to access the Trumps at Mar-a-Lago.

The entrepreneur, 45-year-old Li Yang, first came to light when law enforcement raided her chain of spas and massage parlors in South Florida—and busted New England Patriots owner Bob Kraft (among other customers) in late February for soliciting prostitution at one of the facilities.

She next made the news when the Miami Herald reported on March 8 that earlier in February, she had attended a Super Bowl viewing party at Donald Trump’s West Palm Beach golf club, Mar-a-Lago, and had snapped a selfie with the president during the event.

Although Yang no longer owns the spa that Kraft—a longtime Trump associate and pal—allegedly visited, the newspaper noted that other massage parlors her family runs have “gained a reputation for offering sexual services (best known as ‘happy endings’ in the massage business).”

What’s more, Yang runs an investment business through which, Mother Jones has documented, she has offered to sell Chinese clients access to Trump and his family. A website for the business—which features numerous photos of Yang and her purported clients hobnobbing at Mar-a-Lago—suggests she had some success in doing so.

Yang, who goes by Cindy, and her husband, Zubin Gong, started GY US Investments in 2017. The company describes itself on its website, which is mostly in Chinese, as an “international business consulting firm that provides public relations services to assist businesses in America to establish and expand their brand image in the modern Chinese marketplace,” Mother Jones reports.

But the firm notes that its services also attract clients looking to make high-level connections in the United States. On a page displaying a photo of Mar-a-Lago, Yang’s company says its “activities for clients” have included providing them with “the opportunity to interact with the president, the [American] Minister of Commerce, and other political figures.”

The company boasts it has “arranged taking photos with the President” and suggests it can set up a “White House and Capitol Hill Dinner.” (Mother Jones notes: The same day the Herald story about Yang broke, the website stopped functioning.)

The short bio of Yang on the website, identifying her as the founder and CEO of GY US Investments, shows her in a photo with Trump bearing his signature. It says she has been “settled in the United States for more than 20 years” and is a member of the “Presidential Fundraising Committee.”

According to the Herald, Yang is a registered Republican, and since 2017 she and her relatives have donated more than $42,000 to a Trump political action committee and more than $16,000 to Trump’s campaign.

Her Facebook page, which was taken offline on March 8, was loaded with photos of her posing with GOP notables, Mother Jones reports—among them, Donald Trump Jr., Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida, Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, and former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.

A flier posted on GY US Investments’ website publicized an upcoming event at Mar-A-Lago featuring the president’s sister, Elizabeth Trump Grau.

Yang and her business partners listed on the GY US Investments’ website could not be reached for comment by Mother Jones.

Research contact: @DavidCornDC

Parents at border still to be faced with heartless choice

June 26, 2018

The Trump administration is developing a plan that would confront parents who cross the border illegally with a sort of “Sophie’s Choice,” according to a June 25 report by the Miami Herald: Either allow themselves to be detained with their child in a large tent city—or give up custody of their child, at least temporarily—according to two sources who have discussed the plans with White House officials.

The choice is being considered as part of a hastily crafted solution to the problem of complying with President Donald Trump’s executive order last week, which terminated the widely condemned policy of separating parents and children arrested at the border. However, it still uses children as pawns in the zero-tolerance immigration push.

Current law, the news outlet points out, prohibits the federal government from keeping children detained, even with their parents, in immigration detention for more than 20 days.

But, if a parent does not wish the child to be released from custody and taken away from him or her, the so-called Flores court settlement notes the parent can keep the child with them in custody.

More than 2,000 Latin American children have been placed in shelters or foster homes since the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” plan went into effect. Since the executive order was signed last week, about 500 children have been returned to their parents.Top of Form

“They want to take the power of the mother away to be able to say, ‘I want my kid released’,” Peter Schey, the lawyer who represented the mothers in the Flores case, told the Herald. “They want to take that away. Say ‘no, forget that, the kid has to be detained with you until the very end.’ ”

Schey described Trump’s proposal as “Hobson’s choice“—which means no choice at all—but said the Department of Homeland Security can already detain parents and children together if the parent does not want their child to be released. He said parents need to understand and be informed that they do have choices.

“Neither the language nor the intention of anything in the Flores agreement precludes a parent from retaining decision-making power over their children,” Schey said. “We never thought to usurp that decision-making authority which we highly respect.”

According to the findings of a Quinnipiac University poll released on June 18, American voters oppose 66% vs. 27% percent the policy of separating children and parents when families illegally cross the border.

Research contact: @francoordonez