Axios story on 'Fang Fang' offers cautionary tale for ambitious Elk Grove elected officials

Earlier this week, the online news site Axios published a story on an alleged spy for the People Republic of China who, through a several-year effort, got close to up-and-coming California politicians, including a Bay Area Democratic Member of Congress. 

The story titled "Suspected Chinese spy targeted California politicians" detailed the activities of Christine Fang, known within the Bay Area political circle as Fang Fang, who ingratiated herself to politicians identified as up and comers. Among those, according to the story, which Fang Fang marked was a then little known Dublin, Calif. City Councilmember, Eric Swalwell.

Although he had some experience working as a Congressional aide, Swalwell was largely unknown. When he was first elected to the Dublin City Council in 2010, his previous local experience included serving consecutive two-year terms starting in 2006 on the Heritage and Cultural Arts and Planning Commissions, respectively. 

According to Axios, it was then that Swalwell was identified as a rising star in Bay Area and Democratic party circles. Swalwell defeated 40-year, 20 term Democratic incumbent Representative Pete Stark in 2012.

For his 2014 reelection bid, Fang Fang reportedly bundled donations for Swalwell. Additionally, Fang Fang supposedly had two interns placed on Swalwell's Congress staff.

Although Swalwell was not the only politician targeted by Fang Fang - she allegedly had sex with an Ohio politician in a car under the cover to improve her English skills - he is the most prominent one among several Northern California elected officials targeted.

To be clear, Swalwell is not alleged to have given state secrets and is not under any criminal indictment. Nonetheless, it is unsavory to be associated with a quasi-hostile state agent who fled the United States as she came under an FBI investigation. 

Another aspect that should be noted in the Axios story was how Fang Fang associated with an influential Northern California-based national political group, Asian Pacific Island American Public Affairs, know more commonly as APAPA. In the last several years, APAPA has flexed its muscles in Elk Grove politics and has donated large sums to several local officials, has an employee on the Elk Grove Planning Commission, and through its political donations loosely tied to California Northstate University.

According to the story, Fang Fang became involved with APAPA through her role as president of a campus branch of APAPA. In the report, C.C. Yin, founder of APAPA, acknowledged he knew Fang Fang but stressed the organization has no ties to any foreign government.

In their summary, the Axios story said, " U.S. intelligence officials believe China's spy services have become more aggressive and emboldened, including in their U.S.-focused influence and political intelligence-gathering operations. Fang's case shows how a single determined individual, allegedly working for Beijing, can gain access to sensitive U.S. political circles." 

As this story relates to Elk Grove, one thing there is no shortage of is ambitious politicians, some identified as so by national publications, and those who think they are up and comers. As we start looking forward to the 2022 elections, it will be worth monitoring and scrutinizing these various ambitious politicians' various financial disclosures, and more importantly, their social media feeds. 

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Capt. Benjamin Willard said...

Over the years, Ms. Singh Allen’s political loyalty and alliances shift like the sands of the Sahara Desert. Like the sand, she will go whatever way the wind blows to her advantage. Dr. Bera would be well-served to watch his back and keep an eye on Ms. Singh-Allen.

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