A suspected Chinese intelligence operative developed relationships with a number of American politicians as part of a Chinese political intelligence operation that ended in 2015, including Democratic congressman Eric Swalwell, for whom Christine Fang helped fundraise.
Fang helped fundraise for Swalwell’s 2014 re-election campaign, a year-long investigation found, citing a Bay Area political operative and a current U.S. intelligence official. She also helped place at least one intern in the California Democrat’s office.
There is no evidence in Federal Election Commission records that Fang herself donated to Swalwell’s campaign. Donations from foreign nationals are illegal.
Between 2011 and 2015, Fang also developed close ties with several other local and national U.S. politicians across the country, particularly in the Bay Area, according to the Axios investigation, which cites current and former U.S. intelligence officials and one former elected official.
She also had romantic or sexual relationships with at least two Midwestern mayors over a three-year period. Fang, who was in her late 20s or early 30s at the time, was enrolled as a student at California State University, East Bay.
Fang also helped fundraise for former Democratic presidential candidate Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii in 2013. Gabbard’s office said Gabbard has no recollection of meeting Fang. The next year, Fang, volunteered for California Democratic congressman Ro Khanna’s failed bid for House in 2014. Khanna won election to the House in 2016.
Swalwell declined to participate in the Axios story in order to “protect information that might be classified.”
“Rep. Swalwell, long ago, provided information about this person — whom he met more than eight years ago, and whom he hasn’t seen in nearly six years — to the FBI,” Swalwell’s office said.
In 2015, federal investigators briefed Swalwell on their concerns regarding Fang, at which point he severed all his ties with her. He has not been accused of any misbehavior.
U.S. officials have determined that Fang’s purpose for her presence in the country was to cultivate connections with rising U.S. officials in order to later influence them on policy related to China.