John Huang

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Person.png John Huang   C-SPAN ModernHistoryProjectRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
John Huang.jpg
Alma materUniversity of Connecticut
Interests • Mochtar Riady
• Bill Clinton
A major figure in Chinagate, a 1996 election funding scandal involving Bill Clinton.

John Huang was a major figure in Chinagate, a 1996 election funding scandal involving Bill Clinton, to sell seats on taxpayer-funded trade missions in exchange for campaign contributions.[1]

Huang worked for Lippo Bank in California and Worthen Bank in Arkansas, both dominated by overseas Chinese, when Bill Clinton was governor. Huang later became deputy assistant secretary for international economic affairs in Clinton's Commerce Department before he became a chief fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee in 1996.[2][3][4] Huang raised $3.4 million for the Democratic Party, but more than half of this money had to be returned because some of these donations were foreign[5].


Huang was born in 1945 at Nanping in Fujian. His father Huang Tizhai was a native from Wenzhou, Zhejiang and served the KMT. Huang and his father fled to Taiwan at the end of the Chinese Civil War before he eventually emigrated to the United States in 1969[2] to study for an M.B.A. at the University of Connecticut. After working as a loan officer at small banks around Washington D.C., Huang moved to Kentucky and Tennessee before becoming Vice President of Worthen Bank in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1984, when Bill Clinton was governor. [6]

In 1980, John Huang met overseas Chinese businessman Mochtar Riady at an event in Little Rock. The featured speaker was then-Governor Bill Clinton. Riady’s son, James, would later hire Huang at one of his companies. At the same time, Huang would serve as a fundraiser for Clinton’s 1992 campaign. He became an expert in fundraising among different Asian-American communities.[7]

On August 12, 1999, Huang pleaded guilty to a felony conspiracy charge for violating campaign finance laws and was sentenced to one year of probation. He was also ordered by U.S. District Court to pay a $10,000 fine and serve 500 hours of community service. Prosecutors said Huang was responsible for arranging about $156,000 in illegal campaign contributions from Lippo Group employees to the Democratic Party.[8]


  • Barbara Wise‎, his secretary and associate at the Commerce Department, was found "bruised and partially nude in a locked office at Commerce. Cause of death unknown. 11/29/96"