Solomon Seeks Spy Probe of Huang

Article excerpt

The chairman of a House committee urged the FBI yesterday to investigate John Huang, the man at the center of the Democratic Party's fund-raising scandal, on possible national-security violations and economic espionage while at the Commerce Department.

Rep. Gerald B.H. Solomon, in a letter to FBI Director Louis J. Freeh, questioned Mr. Huang's possible misuse of a top-secret security clearance to gain information on China during classified CIA briefings and his efforts to promote China-trade policies while delaying those targeting Taiwan.

The chairman of the House Rules Committee also cited discrepancies Mr. Huang made in various visa, passport and Commerce records concerning his date and place of birth.

And the New York Republican questioned the timing of phone calls Mr. Huang made from Commerce to the Lippo Group and the many CIA and department briefings he had on China, where the multibillion-dollar Lippo empire - which has contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Democratic National Committee and President Clinton - has extensive business interests.

"This is a serious matter, Mr. Director, perhaps the most serious since the end of the Cold War," Mr. Solomon said in the letter, noting that records his committee had received warranted an immediate FBI probe. "I pray history will record that neither Congress nor the FBI was lacking in due diligence."

Mr. Huang, who became a U.S. citizen in 1976, has not been available for comment. His attorney, John C. Keeney Jr., also was unavailable but previously has declined to discuss his client. FBI officials declined comment, referring inquiries to the House Rules Committee.

As a DNC fund-raiser, Mr. Huang solicited about $2.5 million from contributors with Asian business links, about $1.5 million of which has since been returned.

Mr. Huang, former Lippo vice president, DNC fund-raiser and deputy assistant secretary for international economic policy at Commerce, is at the center of campaign-finance probes by various congressional committees and a criminal probe by the Justice Department into his fund raising for Democrats.

He was granted a top-secret clearance in January 1994, five months before he left Lippo to join Commerce. A Jan. 31, 1994, department memo said Mr. Huang got the clearance "due to the critical need for his expertise in the new administration for Secretary [Ronald H.] Brown."

Mr. Huang did not begin work at Commerce until July 18, 1994.

Despite extensive foreign experience that included contacts in Indonesia and Taiwan and a posting to Hong Kong in 1984 and 1985, security officials never conducted an overseas background check during the 17 months Mr. …