GAITHERSBURG – Answering the door of her modest Gaithersburg townhouse in a green T-shirt and gray sweatpants, Yue F. Chu doesn’t look like a major player in the political contributions game.
And the small cement porch covered with watering buckets, trowels and potted plants that sprout flowers and small red peppers are hardly the typical trappings of a Washington influence peddler.
But the 38-year-old mother of two and former waitress became entangled in the Senate’s campaign finance investigation this summer when her name appeared as donating $20,000 to the Democratic National Committee.
“I don’t want to talk. I am finished talking,” Chu said.
Chu, who speaks little English, told the Senate Government Affairs Committee through an interpreter in August that she knew nothing about Yah Lin “Charlie” Trie’s money funnel to the Democratic National Committee.
“She, in fact, was simply helping out a friend,” Michael Haynes, Chu’s attorney, said in a phone interview. “She, at that time, didn’t know what the DNC was.”
Chu told the committee that Ng Lap Seng, her husband’s boss, asked her last year to help “buy a ticket to pass the gate” at the White House. Chu was happy to help.
Seng couldn’t make a donation himself because it is illegal for foreign citizens to contribute to American political campaigns.
Chu was later reimbursed by a Seng business associate for her $20,000 check, a process which Sen. Fred Thompson, R-Tenn., chairman of the committee, characterized as “money laundering.”
The Democratic National Committee has since returned Chu’s contribution.