- By Mar-Vic Cagurangan
Saipan casino, Guam companies among Trump's donors
The Imperial Pacific International, operator of Saipan casino, and the Republican Party of Guam are among the top sponsors of one of President Trump’s 2017 inaugural galas, according to the list posted on the Asian Pacific American Advisory Committee’s website dedicated to the event.But there is no record or official report of how much the Asian Pacific Gala raised, as required by federal law or where that money went.
Trump reportedly pulled in $107 million in individual and corporate contributions, a record-setting amount nearly doubling President Barack Obama’s 2009 record of $53 million.
The list of sponsors from Guam and Saipan also includes Phillip Mendiola Long of Bridge Investment Group, Elaine Cruz Jones of Jones & Guerrero Co., Matthew Pothen of Guam Shipyard, Elaine Jones & Family, PHR Ken Micronesia, Derek Uehara of Uehara Financial Group, LLC, Calvo Fisher & Jacob Law Offices, Jonathan Kriegel, former CEO of Docomo Pacific and the Chinese Chamber of Commerce of Guam.
Other sponsors include Vivek Lall of Lockheed Martin, Earl Wong of Universal Chinese Publishing House, Lisa Shin od Korean-Americas for Trump and Lee Properties, and Ben & Kin Tang of American-Chinese for Trump Movement.
Based on the sponsorship packages offered, financial contributions collected by the committee are estimated at more than $100,000. Presidential sponsorship cost $25,000. Imperial Pacific and the Guam Republican Party were listed as presidential sponsors. This package came with 12 tickets to inaugural gala, 5 tickets to the VIP salon at the inaugural gala , and 10 tickets to the Governor’s Inauguration Fundraising. Platinum sponsorship cost $10,000; gold sponsorship $5,000 and elite sponsorship, $2,500.
The gala steering committee was co-chaired by then Guam Gov. Eddie Baza Calvo and CNMI Gov. Ralph DLG Torres. Jay Rojas, then administrator of the Guam Economic Development Authority and national committeeman, and Puneet Ahluwalia of Virginia Republican State Committee were listed on the website as the contact persons for sponsorship information. Requests for comment from Rojas and Ahluawalia were not returned as of this writing.
The committee’s website does not indicate the corresponding amounts donated by the sponsors and no other list is available on the website.
The underwriter form offered donor packages for amounts ranging from $25,000 to $1 million, each came with corresponding perks.
In an April 13 report, the Palm Beach Post said the National Committee of Asian American Republicans collected between $5,000 and $15,000 each from up to 20 listed sponsors plus hundreds of smaller contributions.
“The lavish Asian Pacific American Presidential Inaugural Gala — the first of its kind, with a buffet-style dinner, cocktail tables draped in white cloth and live entertainment — drew more than 900 people who paid at least $75 per ticket and a handful of sponsors who shelled out much more,” the Palm Beach Post reported. “But there’s no trace of the money raised that night, as required by law.”
Calvo led the Guam delegation that attended the Asian Pacific American Presidential Inaugural Gala held at the Mayflower Hotel’s Grand Ballroom in Washington on Jan. 19, 2017. Accompanying Calvo were Rojas and Margaret Metcalfe, then Guam's liaison to the nation's capital
The Wall Street Journal reported on Dec. 14, 2018 that federal prosecutors in New York City launched an investigation into the finances of Trump’s inauguration committee. The sponsorship, according to the Center for Public Integrity, came with perks such as prime tickets, luxurious lodging, access to the president himself, “intimate” dinners with Vice President Mike Pence, exclusive luncheons with Cabinet appointees and congressional leaders — in exchange for six- and seven-figure contributions from individual and corporate contributors.
“Some committees, including the Trump inaugural, set up nonprofits, which must be registered with the IRS. But in the case of the organizers of the Asian-American gala, no nonprofit appears in federal records,” the Palm Beach Post reported. “Without public receipts, there’s no way to know who gave money and if any laws were broken.”
As for the Imperial Pacific, CNMI Rep. Gregorio Sablan earlier said the casino operator is taking the bulk of the CW visa cap for the CNMI.
While it is not clear if IPI’s investment in the presidential gala bought influence in the nation’s capital, Sablan said last year he had received information that the U.S. Department of Labor has issued 1,668 labor certifications for the casino project.
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