Where is Ralph Torres?
By Jacob Nakamura
(Tumon, Guam) For the first time, one of the highest-ranking officers of the United States government publicly recognized the infiltration of the Communist Party of China into the affairs of some of the states and territories of the Union, validating a long-held suspicion of involvement by at least one governor who seemed missing from a major speech today.
In remarks today in Washington, D.C. before the annual winter meeting of the National Governors Association, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned governors about China's seemingly harmless, covert, and overreaching interference, not just in U.S. elections, but as well in the affairs of states, territories, city councils, and even high schools throughout the nation.
"Last year, last year I received an invitation to an event that 'promised to be an occasion for exclusive deal making.' It said 'the opportunities for mutually beneficial economic development between China and our individual states are tremendous.' The invitation was actually from a former governor. I was being invited to the U.S. China Governors Collaboration Summit. It was an event co-hosted by the National Governors Association and something called the Chinese People's Association for Friendship and Foreign Countries. Sounds pretty harmless. What the invitation did not say is that the group, the group I just mentioned, is the public face of the Chinese Communist Party's official foreign interference agency, the United Front Work Department." - Secretary Pompeo in his keynote address before the NGA, February 8, 2020 in Washington, D.C.
(Start at the 1 hour, 57 minute mark for Secretary Pompeo's keynote address)
It was a startling revelation for many of the governors in the room, but an all-too-familiar orchestration of Chinese influence peddled by the current governor of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Ralph Torres, and the former governor of Guam, Eddie Calvo.
Last year, Lulu Ramadan with the Palm Beach Post published a story carried on every major news wire regarding the January 19, 2017 inaugural ball fundraiser for President Trump in Washington, D.C. Mr. Torres and Mr. Calvo were the co-chairmen of the event, hosted by the National Committee of Asian American Republicans.
NCAAR is a registered political committee and, as such, must report its earnings to the Federal Election Commission. When the Post asked what happened to the money raised at the inaugural fundraiser, its executive director, Cliff Li, said he knew where the money went, "but I don't want to tell you."
The nature of the fundraiser raised eyebrows within the Federal Bureau of lnvestigation, not only because of the accounting of election contributions to a federal campaign, but because of where the money was coming from.
Mr. Li is a close associate of Cindy Yang, the Florida massage parlor entrepreneur who sold access to President Trump at Mar-a-Lago. Ms. Yang was the head of fundraising for the NCAAR.
The NCAAR hosted the January 19, 2017 fundraiser that accepted funding from Chinese nationals into a political committee raising funds for a federal election.
Mr. Torres and Mr. Calvo were the co-chairmen of the fundraiser.
It is against federal law (52 USC §30121) to accept donations of foreign money into United States elections. It is considered to be foreign interference in U.S. elections. The President was recently charged by the House of Representatives for Democrats's allegations that he tried to personally benefit from foreign assistance from Ukraine in a so-called quid pro quo involving U.S. aid in exchange for Ukrainian intelligence against former Vice President Joe Biden's son. He was acquitted by the Senate a few days ago.
Actually accepting foreign money for a federal election provides far more probable cause of the commission of a federal felony.
This is likely why the FBI pursued and was granted a search warrant by a federal judge for "All documents, records, and property that constitute evidence of violations of ... 52 U.S.C. §30121 by RALPH TORRES, VINCENT TORRES, VICTORINO TORRES, JOAQUIN TORRES, ALFRED CHI-YAM YUE or RON LI ANDERSON."
More to Mr. Pompeo's groundshaking assertion of Communist Party of China influence into the daily affairs of the states and territories, Ms. Yang is an officer of two groups with an identical lineage to the Communist Party as the Chinese People's Association for Friendship and Foreign Countries he spoke of today: Council for the Promotion of the Peaceful Reunification of China (CPPRC) and the Miami chapter of the American arm of the Chinese Association of Science and Technology. Both Miami-based organizations have direct ties to the Communist Party, according to a report by Mother Jones.
All of this doesn't even include the unaccounted flow of cash into personal, election campaign, and business accounts from Chinese nationals doing business with Imperial Pacific International, the Bermuda-based business that owns the Best Sunshine casino in Garapan.
Torres Brothers, LLC, the law firm owned and operated by Mr. Torres's brothers, is a vendor of the casino. They are among several CNMI elected and appointed officials and public figures receiving money from IPI.
Like the U.S. China-Governors Collaboration Summit, former U.S. governors were recruited by IPI to push its entry and influence into U.S. markets; in IPI's case, via the CNMI government.
A federal grand jury in Saipan is ongoing and is believed to have been hearing testimony from witnesses and evidence presented by federal prosecutors in the massive public corruption case against Mr. Torres and his brothers.
News rooms that have covered this story have focused on the criminal investigation involving money laundering, fraud, and Hobbs Act violations.
The highly unreported segment of the criminal investigation by the FBI that may lead to charges and the public arrest of Mr. Torres and others is something Mr. Pompeo raised into the national limelight today - Chinese influence.
Former Gov. Eddie Calvo no longer is in office, but his successor, was present for the speech, albeit dozing off here and there. Ralph Torres remains in office for the time being. He is a member of the NGA and is a religious attendee at both its winter and summer annual meetings. He did not appear in the footage of Mr. Pompeo's speech.
In a speech by the U.S. Secretary of State that would seem to speak most directly to the CNMI governor, the question is, where is Ralph Torres?