Sherry Li is the third-largest contributor to the Trump Victory Committee. But few people seem to know who she is.
As the Republican Party heads into one of the more difficult electoral climates in recent memory, it is leaning heavily on the financial help of a mysterious donor who is, among other things, tied to a nonprofit group that hails the greatness of infamous communist dictator, Mao Zedong.
Sherry Li is not your prototypical GOP funder. She only started giving recently, and it’s not entirely clear what professional or ideological axe she has to grind. The main project with which she is associated—a Chinese-themed amusement park in upstate New York—is not the typical resume line for a well-heeled party supporter.
But since last year, Li has contributed more than $400,000 to Republican candidates and party organs. She’s donated to the RNC directly, and to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and the National Republican Congressional Committee. The $270,500 donation she has made to a joint fundraising account for President Donald Trump and the Republican National Committee, makes Li the third-largest contributor to the Trump Victory Committee during the current election cycle. One of her business associates, Lianbo Wang, is the second-largest, having contributed $329,500.
All the money has won Li access to a number of exclusive events for GOP donors, including events in New York hosted by Graham and Rep. Steve Stivers, the chairman of the NRCC and another recipient of her campaign contributions. But despite all the checks written and doors opened, Li seems to be a mystery in Republican politics, including to those in her home state.
“Don’t know her,” former governor and 2016 GOP presidential candidate George Pataki remarked succinctly. The RNC and NRCC did not respond to questions about her contributions. One of the party’s top fundraisers was blunt in his take on Li and her business partner, telling The Daily Beast, “I have never heard of them.”
Where Li got the money to make the sizeable contributions is only slightly less mysterious than Li herself. She has given before, but in far smaller amounts: $2,500 in 2012 to Sen. David Vitter’s (R-LA) Senate campaign and $2,000 in 2013 to Rep. Bob Goodlatte’s (R-VA) re-election. In 2014, she gave $55,000 to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. And in 2015, she started giving big—$32,300 to the RNC and $35,000 to Trump Victory.
She is currently planning a sprawling complex of Chinese-themed attractions in New York’s Catskill Mountains. Billed as China City of America, the sprawling park was initially designed to include a shopping mall, amusement park, Chinese historical attractions, and residential and office space. It’s since been scaled back and rebranded as an educational institution called the “Thompson Education Center.”
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