Ex-CAGOP Lt. Gov. Candidate Cole Harris and Chinese ‘Wife’ Face PPP Fraud Charges and More

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Back in the spring of 2018, a political newcomer by the name of Cole Harris announced his candidacy in the race for California Lt. Governor. Harris, running as a Republican, was recruited by RNC National Committeeman Shawn Steel and his wife, Michelle, who was then a member of the Orange County Board of Supervisors. Though he dumped $2 million into the race he finished third in the June primary, and two Democrats advanced to November. A few months later, Harris was sued by the consulting firm he’d retained and allegedly personally guaranteed payment to, Majority Strategies, for nonpayment. Within that lawsuit, it was learned that there were questions as to the legality of the money Harris fronted for the campaign. Harris claimed that the monies were from his own personal funds, from an investment firm he’d run for more than a decade. The consultants working with him, though, say that the decisions were really being made by his “wife,” Cindy Chen, who is a Chinese national and not his legal wife.

While the lawsuit was the major story, the news about illegal foreign contributions was less important.

After that, the story was over — until this year.

In February 2023, the government indicted the couple for wire fraud. They claimed that they had stolen more than $3.7 million from the Paycheck Protection Program. They set up two shell corporations and submitted fraudulent documentation regarding the employees of each of the companies.

This Complaint explains the plot:

Between HARRIS, SPIRO, and LU as well as again between HARRIS, SPIRO, and LU to make falsified statements about Deja LLC (“Deja”) as well as Emergency Response Nursing (“ERN”), agreements that were made. Each member of conspiracies involving Deja LLC (“Deja”) as well as Emergency Response Nursing (“ERN”) knew at least one object, namely, fraudulently obtaining Paycheck Protection Program loans backed with SBA and intending to help them achieve it.

The Complaint details the WeChat messages sent by the Defendants to WeChat. While they refer to PPP funds as “free money”, they also run a franchise that “defrauds taxpayers”.

SPIRO sent HARRIS a WeChat Message on April 24, 2020. The message stated that $5m was available to our friends, and 2m was available for your loan. Let’s talk tomorrow. There was $5m available for our friends and 2m for your loan.

SPIRO sent HARRIS a WeChat Message on April 29, 2020. “I just need 2 IDs & Socials.” HARRIS responded, “That’s Yao Fucking Man.” SPIRO stated that he was unable to imagine what he would do with $7 million of his own money. He said, “I’m beyond all my imagination. I have $7m in free money. I can get $4-5mm tomorrow if I get 2 names. Tomorrow, I will send three other names to other banks.

Both Chen and Harris were aware that federal search warrants had been served at different times. Cindy Chen tried to delete her phone’s information during an execution of a warrant in October 2022. The Complaint includes the following footnote:

CHEN’s telephone was seized by investigators in October 2022. This information was based on reports and information from other investigators. CHEN was found in the vehicle of an investigator who went to school nearby. CHEN was then taken to a nearby school. CHEN was unable to delete the icon from CHEN’s Telephone.

Spiro bought a ticket to Dubai just days before the Complaint was filed. Federal agents stopped him as he was about to board the plane. On February 3, Harris and Chen, along with the fourth codefendant, were detained.

Chen then made a motion requesting to visit her “sick” sister in China and said that there was some type of business she, and only she, had to handle in mainland China and that it had to be in person. Her request was denied, and she was subject to biometric check-in with pretrial services. However, somehow she was able to fake the biometrics and jet off to Mexico on March 15 and then Japan and, presumably, China, leaving Cole’s a$$ in the pool house. Literally. From a court document related to Cole’s pretrial release:

CHEN had already left Mexico City on March 15, 2023, according to the FBI. He flew from Mexico City to Japan at 1:01 AM (Mexico Time span>).

In an attempt to locate co-defendant CHEN, on March 15, 2023, Pretrial Services asked the defendant about co-defendant CHEN’s whereabouts. Defendant stated that he had slept in their pool house on the prior night because he had been feeling ill. Pretrial Services asked the defendant to check if co-defendant CHEN was home. Defendant stated that neither co-defendant CHEN nor her vehicle was at the residence, and he was not sure what time she left that day. Notably, the defendant stated that he last saw codefendant CHEN on the prior night at around 9:00 p.m. Asked whether there were cameras at the residence, the defendant stated that the cameras were not working.

Well, that’s convenient.

Pretrial Services spoke with the defendant’s mother, codefendant CHEN. She claimed that her mother had translated the statement of CHEN. She claimed that she last saw CHEN the night before and that her mother translated the statement of CHEN.

Pretrial Services discovered that GPS data indicated that the check-ins were within close proximity to the defendant and codefendant CHEN’s pool house.

Harris could have been at the pool house and submitted biometric check-ins to his baby mama. In an attempt to secure Harris’ pretrial release, the US Attorney attempted to argue this.

But there was more to the house. Cindy Chen left her mother’s home with Cole and took off. Cole had a polygamous lifestyle. He moved in with another woman to make sure they all lived together. Jasmine West, Jasmine’s daughter, filed an affidavit stating that Harris had been living with her since 2020. She also stated that Harris had been in a relationship since then.

West said that Cole and Cindy are not in a long-term relationship but had made an agreement to keep their children’s eyes open. Each one could pursue their own romantic interests, she said.

Cole informed me that I was pregnant with Miri in February 2021. Cindy also knew about Cole’s relationship. Cole knew about my relationship with Cindy.

Ms. West then expressed to the court that perhaps Cindy Chen decided it was a good time to start her life over in China. That’s all well and good, except there’s the business of an indictment. If Chen is indeed in China, it’s unlikely that she will ever return to the United States, and will have left a big mess for her children and her mother — and her ex-boyfriend — to clean up.

Harris is the second California Republican presidential hopeful to be exposed as being inextricably connected with the Chinese Communist Party. They were not vetted. Republicans should check all new political candidates for possible ties with the CCP or other disqualifications. Let’s look at the similarities between Cole Harris’ credibility and Peter Kuo’s. Some party leaders don’t have enough knowledge to vet candidates.