The bombshell disclosure that East Bay Rep. Eric Swalwell was the target of a suspected Chinese spy who helped bundle campaign contributions for his campaign and was successful in placing an intern in the East Bay congressmember’s D.C. office has simmered for several years in Southern Alameda County.
First reported by Axios on Monday, the investigation found a Chinese national named Fang Fang, but better known to local officials as Christine Fang, ingratiated herself with Swalwell and then his 2014 re-election campaign. She later pulled in other elected officials and Asian American political groups. Sensitive information is not believed to have been secured by Fang, but she was able safely enter the inner-circle and gain intelligence not only on Swalwell, but possibly South Bay Rep. Ro Khanna, and officials from every level of local government in Southern Alameda County and the Tri-Valley.
But the undercurrent of local buzz about Fang over the past five years almost always suggested romantic dalliances with Swalwell, and perhaps other elected officials. The Axios story reports that Fang had sexual relationships with two unnamed “Midwestern mayors,” but did not mention Swalwell.
Fox News, citing intelligence officials, reported Swalwell also had a sexual relationship with Fang. Swalwell’s office declined to comment, according to Fox News, because the information is classified. A source in the East Bay said Swalwell’s romantic interludes occurred in Contra Costa County.
Swalwell is married with two small children. But at the time of his involvement with Fang, Swalwell was a bachelor. In Washington circles, Swalwell gained a reputation for his playboy lifestyle and was known for picking up women at popular D.C. watering holes, congressional sources have said for years.
The alleged relationship was one of several reasons for the F.B.I. investigation occurring sometime in 2015, according to a Southern Alameda County official who was interviewed by agents. However, at the time, it was unclear to the official if the F.B.I. was acting on suspicions of wrongdoing by Swalwell or whether he may have been compromised by Fang in order to gain some type of favor, the official said. Bill Harrison, the mayor of Fremont at the time, told Axios that he was also interviewed by the F.B.I around the same time.
Fang then disappeared and was never heard from again, Axios reports. But she left behind her personal Facebook page. Left virtually untouched for years, the page includes a treasure trove a photographs featuring herself with nearly every elected official in the area. Over the years, the Facebook page has left political insiders to wonder who was Christine Fang and what was she doing in Alameda County?
Almost every Fremont and Tri-Valley elected official and political insider seems to hold the same vivid memories of Fang. Many remarked that she appeared to have come out of nowhere and was suddenly meeting every local official and seemingly showing up at every event. Others also described holding deep-seated suspicions about her intentions. After news broke on Monday, some of those same individuals did not express surprise about the revelations, but certainly did not expect a spy was among them.
Malia Vella, currently an Alameda councilmember, but at the time of Fang’s interactions in Southern Alameda County politics, was a district director for Hayward and Fremont Assemblymember Bill Quirk. Vella said she always viewed Fang with apprehension.
Vella made a point of placing herself between Fang and Quirk or asking a staffer to do the same because Fang was often “touchy-feely” with other male elected officials. “It was the last thing I wanted him to get embroiled in,” Vella said.
The shielding of Quirk from Fang may have worked. The Hayward assemblymember is the only prominent elected official from the area not known to have been photographed with Fang.
The list of those who did is a who’s who of Southern Alameda County and Tri-Valley officials. In addition to Swalwell and Khanna, they include Harrison, current Fremont Mayor Lily Mei (in which Fang is wearing an extremely skimpy pair of jeans shorts), Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty, state Sen. Bob Wieckowski, future Alameda County Assessor Phong La, state Treasurer Fiona Ma, former Rep. Mike Honda, former Hayward Councilmembers Anna May and Greg Jones, Fremont Councilmember Raj Salwan, Alameda County Supervisor-elect David Haubert, Dublin Mayor-elect Melissa Hernandez.
Fang’s expensive manner of dress also stood out to Vella and others who declined to speak on the record. “I would go to these events wearing business attire and she was always dressed up like she was going to a cocktail party or a nightclub,” Vella said. Fang also appeared to be grooming younger women in the Southern Alameda County political scene. She was privately upfront with some young women about urging them to use their femininity with male elected officials in order to climb the political ladder, said two individuals who would only speak on background.
Fang was enrolled at Cal State East Bay during this time, according to Axios. At the university she joined a number of Asian American student groups and then local Asian-Pacific Islander organizations. Although young, others recall that Fang appeared older than a typical college student, another fact that caused suspicion at the time. Axios reported Fang was likely in her late 20s or early 30s.
When it comes to Fang allegedly bundling campaign contributions for Swalwell’s first re-election bid in 2014, the Axios article does not mention illegal contributions are now known to have been made to Swalwell’s campaign during the same election cycle. A prominent Asian American developer named James Tong was convicted last year for illegal contributions to the congressmember’s campaign. Tong, a major player in Tri-Valley politics and real estate, was one of Swalwell’s few influential supporters during his upset victory in 2012 over long-time Rep. Pete Stark. Two years later, Tong used family members as “straw men” to contribute $38,000 to Swalwell’s campaign. The legal limit for individuals donations at the time was $2,500. Swalwell said he had no knowledge of Tong’s illegal contributions until being contacted by the F.B.I in 2017.
While Swalwell said he cut off any contact with Fang after being alerted by the F.B.I in 2015, the presence of potential espionage in the Fremont area remains. Last year, Fremont Councilmember Teresa Keng raised alarms when she created a fake city proclamation for an organization known to be backed by the Chinese Communist Party. Of great concern was the fact that Keng, who was born in Taiwan, had falsely offered the city government of Fremont’s support for China’s intervention in Taiwan. Unwittingly, Keng provided a talking point for China’s foreign policy objective that is vehemently opposed by the United States government.
Also alarming for local government in Alameda County is the potential that former and current elected officials, in addition to Swalwell, could have also been compromised by their personal interactions with Fang. Among the bevy of rumors surrounding Fang was that if she, indeed, had a sexual relationship with Swalwell, he was not the only one among Alameda County officials. In this case, embarrassing personal information that could later be used as blackmail may have been obtained on elected officials at every level of local government in Alameda County, including the city level in Fremont and the Tri-Valley, the county level, the state Senate district, and both south county congressional districts.
Trump made the China problem even worse. Are you serious right now?
Or perhaps it’s just an article with factual information regarding the whereabouts of a Chinese spy. But yeah sure. It’s racist.
Lily Mei is CCP
I agree with you. Racism is not the issue. China is sending spies into America to disrupt our policies and government? They are literally trying to take our country over. They let USA borrow money because that gives them control over influence in high government. If you are a legal asian American… then usually no one has an issue with you here in America. We love our FORIEGN FRIENDS AND FELLOW AMERICANS. That comment was written to cover up this story… which obviously shows the country what is going on in our universities all across the nation. If you mention this to someone… they try and call you racist. When will people just wake up and see that we work hard in this country and do not want illegal people here stealing our country? Is it wrong to love your country anymore? To protect it? Identifying someone by there ethnic group or what they believe in is bad. That’s what Democrats are doing. Btw there are still chinese spy. There are systems everywhere right now. They want our country and benefits.. and want the white people to pay for it. Well Americans pay taxes and that pays for everything in this country. WE HAVE THE SAY. NOT CHINA. OR MINORITY GROUPS. WANNA TALK? LETS TALK. BUT JUST KNOW PEOPLE MADE THIS COUNTRY AND CAN TAKE IT AWAY JUST THE WAY WE BUILT IT.
That’s EXACTLY what I thought about the same comment…so confusing. It’s racism, so “move on,” but also tru so we need to clean house?! I personally believe this knee-jerk reaction to frame everything under the blessed sun as racism is distracting, dilutes the term and literally makes people numb to actual examples of true racism.
I could go for Chinese right now-any suggestions?
I can’t tell if this is a joke or not…
Anonymous, I have no idea what you are asking. The actions by Fang Fang were on the behalf of the People’s Republic of China. The reactions of many people to this original article was clearly racist. Anti-Chinese laws and prejudices have been part and parcel of California since before statehood in 1850. Add to that the fact that China and Taiwan have completely different foci and political action plans. The Chinese Community is deeply divided between the two. Adding it all together, there is nothing simple about China. The racism is deep. The prejudices of the Han above all others is just the surface. The Middle Kingdom is a profoundly human and racist entity. None of it is simple.
Is the CCP infiltration of the US motivated by racist intentions ?
Oh please! Stop calling every accusation against a person of color…racism! If you keep propagating this lie that we are all racist, these criminals will get away with murder.
Covid ccp gift, spies, intellectual property theft, organ harvesting, ghettos, election meddling.
Something big and bad is coming and there’s no stopping it .
God will protect America and strike down with great vengeance those traitorous tyrants who have desecrated her, both domestic and foreign.
God will bless our Great President Trump with his second term. He will not forsak a man who has stood for the right to life and his children of Isreal.
Racism has become a shield for criminals to run amok in the world. If the CCP cherishes its own race so much, why are they the most cruel to their own race? How many Chinese people have the CCP killed? Isn’t the CCP the most vicious racist?
Strange comment above. So the problem is real, but despite that, attention to it is motivated by racism? Logically that does not add up. If it’s real it’s real. At this point, with so much evidence of a problem caused by the CCP, the race argument is serving to foreclose (avoid or prevent) political debate. Innocent people everywhere deserve better than that. Racism is real and it’s disgusting. But that’s not what this is. This is a political issue. We have to differentiate, carefully, and pursue.
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This is one more example of anti-Chinese hate speech which is endemic to California. It is one more chapter to the history of efforts to remove the Chinese people from California. Chinese Exclusion laws, lurid stories of tongs, Joss Houses, concubines, eunuchs, intrigue, ax murders, opium dens, slavery, and then atrocities are all part of the anti-Chinese meme that is the history of California since the Gold Rush.
While there is a kernel of truth in all of it, let us all admit to our prejudice and move on. Those duped should admit it, resign their positions of trust, and work to make sure this ends now. Clear out all those tainted by Fang Fang and her machinations on behalf of the Peoples Republic. It is time to clean house and start anew.