The New Federal State of China, a conspiracy theory-promoting group launched in 2020 by Steve Bannon and exiled Chinese mogul Guo Wengui, who the Justice Department has indicted for running a massive fraud scheme, held its gala third-anniversary event in June. Among the mostly Chinese emigres at the event were some notable House Republicans.
Fabulist and alleged fraudster George Santos was a headliner. Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar—a 2020 election truther censured by the House in 2021 after he spoke at a white supremacist event and posted a meme in which he murdered a colleague—was also a featured speaker. Rep. Andy Ogles, a hard-right freshman from Tennessee, who like Santos was found after his election to have fibbed about his resume, spoke as well. Several other GOP congressional candidates also offered remarks. They included Burt Thakur, a former Jeopardy champion seeking a House seat in Texas. Emceeing the event was none other than Bannon, the former Trump adviser who has worked for Guo in recent years, and who was famously arrested on Guo’s yacht in 2020.
All the speakers praised Guo or his organization for their purported campaign to “take down” the Chinese Communist Party.
These appearances seem to have paid off. After the three House members and Thakur demonstrated their support for the imprisoned mogul and his organization, Guo backers steered thousands of dollars to their campaigns. Many of those donations appear to have resulted from a coordinated effort by leaders of Guo’s movement to reward lawmakers who defend him. Guo backers claim he is being prosecuted because of his vocal criticism of the Chinese Communist Party. That is, they allege the Chinese government is manipulating American courts to silence Guo.
The lawmakers and candidates at the NFSC event endorsed, or at least have tacitly entertained, that conspiracy theory.
It is perfectly legal for Guo’s fans to contribute to lawmakers based on their public support for him or the politicians’ opposition to the Chinese Communist Party. But these donations are notable, given the sweeping fraud case Guo faces.
Guo is a reputed billionaire who fled China in 2014 ahead of criminal charges that included fraud and rape. In the US, he built a reputation as a flamboyant critic of the Chinese Communist Party and launched a series of companies and nonprofits that have pumped out right-wing conspiracy theories about Covid and the 2020 election. In late 2020, he helped fund Trump’s “stop-the-steal” efforts.
In March, federal prosecutors in Manhattan charged Guo with stealing more than $1 billion from his own supporters through a series of investment scams. They allege he misappropriated investment money from his network to pay for homes, cars, multiple $36,000 mattresses, yacht maintenance, and even the Mahwah, New Jersey, mansion where the NFSC event was held. He has pleaded not guilty. Denied bail, he remains jailed in New York.
His organization, the New Federal State of China, sells itself as a government-in-waiting prepared to take over following what Guo and Bannon insist is the imminent collapse of the Chinese Communist Party. But federal prosecutors have suggested that this claim, and all of Guo’s anti-CCP rhetoric, is a ruse he used to win over supporters he then defrauded. DOJ’s indictment against Guo alleged that he exploited nonprofits underwriting the NFSC “to amass followers who were aligned with his purported campaign against the Chinese Communist Party and who were also inclined to believe [Guo’s] statements regarding investment and moneymaking opportunities.”
As Mother Jones and others have reported, Santos, starting in May, received a deluge of donations from apparent Guo backers totaling approximately $130,000 after he publicly defended him. Santos echoed his support during the June 4 event, saying that Guo “is a prisoner of the CCP in the United States.” He has repeatedly vowed to use his office to “free” Guo and has even introduced a bill called the “GUO Act“—short for “Government Unanimous Oversight”—as part of his effort to court Guo’s adherents.
The infusion of cash following Santos’ embrace of Guo came as contributions from residents of his district almost completely dried up, Santos’ recent campaign filing shows. That shortage followed reporting on Santos’ extensive lies about his biography and his May indictment for fraud and money laundering. He pleaded not guilty. But Santos’ embrace of Guo has helped earn him a new constituency far outside the boundaries of his Long Island district. In reviewing campaign finance reports, Guo fans now appear to be the main source of funding for Santos’ uphill reelection effort.
Those donations stem from what appears to be an organized effort by Guos’ followers to show that backing their cause will result in campaign cash.
Senior members of Guo’s network distributed a Google form to thousands of Guo supporters in which they could register donations to Santos with the higher-ups in the network, Mother Jones found. “This form is for comrades who have donated to Santos to register their donation information,” the document says, in Chinese. Former Guo backers said his organization uses similar forms to allow members to log various activities they carry out to support Guo.
Screenshots of messages posted by users on a private Discord group used by Guo backers in Oxford in the United Kingdom, which Mother Jones obtained from a person with access to the server, also suggest that the group urged donations to Santos as a public show of support. “He [Santos] has stood with the New Federal State of China,” a user wrote, in a message that has been translated from Chinese. “We cannot let him down. This will also encourage other people like him to stand by us. His vote is crucial to the small majority of the Republican Party.” In a follow-up message, the user wrote that only US citizens and green card holders could legally contribute.
These posts reference a solicitation Santos made on May 10. “I asked questions about #MilesGuo & the DOJ indicts me 5 days later!” Santos wrote on Gettr, a social media site that prosecutors have said Guo controls. “The fight is real & I’m OVER the target, I need your support to keep me fighting for freedom.”
Reps. Gosar and Ogles appeared at the NFSC event about a month after Santos took up Guo’s cause, and their remarks were comparatively restrained, mostly generic compliments and denunciations of supposed CCP influence. Ogles told attendees: “For those that fight for freedom and liberty around the world…your cause is my cause.” Gosar accused China of using TikTok to promote “hedonism” and “mindless dancing.”
Campaign finance filings for both lawmakers show that each received roughly $20,000 from outside their respective districts around the time of the June 4 event. These donations could not all be directly linked to Guo backers. But Mother Jones identified multiple contributors to each Republican who are followers of both Guo and the New Federal State of China.
One was Li Rong Pang of Kissimmee, Florida. In a phone interview, Pang, described herself as a Guo backer and said she gave $3,300, the maximum allowed, to Gosar on June 4—although she did not recall his name—because he appeared at the NFSC event and embraced the group’s cause. “If they [say] ‘take down the CCP, ” Pang said, “I will support all the Congress.” There is no record that Pang, who described herself as retired, has previously donated to any federal candidate.
Gosar collected another $3,300 from Yuliang Yan, a Seattle-area mortgage broker on June 4. Pictures from the June 4 NFSC event show a man who appears to be Yan, based on an online photo of him, in the crowd. Yan did not respond to requests for comment.
Rep. Ogles also received generous contributions from Guo Ming—not related to Guo Wengui—who has been identified in live-streamed NFSC online programs as a technical producer. He’s from Cupertino, California, and leads a group of NFSC supporters based in San Francisco, according to two people who previously worked for Guo. Guo Ming, who donated $3,300 to Ogles in early June, did not respond to requests for comment.
Jason Gao and a woman who shares his address in Chino, California, also maxed out to Ogles. Gao is active in the pro-Guo group in San Francisco, according to a source formerly involved in Guo’s organization. Gao has also appeared in pictures of Guo backers posted online. Reached by phone, Gao declined to comment.
Thakur, the congressional candidate from Texas, baselessly asserted during the NFSC event that the CCP “worked with members of our own government to imprison Miles Guo.” Thakur on June 9 received a $1,000 donation from Chong Zhang. Zhang listed a home address hours away in a different Texas district. She said her employer is OSC Orbit Service Company—a Connecticut-based firm that provides customer service for multiple Guo-linked companies including Gettr and G|Clubs, which DOJ alleged was one of several mostly fraudulent ventures that Guo used to mislead investors. Zhang did not respond to inquiries from Mother Jones.
Campaign offices for Ogles and Thakur did not respond to questions about their receipt of donations from Guo backers. Santos has not replied to repeated queries about his links to Guo.
A Gosar campaign spokesperson said: “Mr. Guo has been a vocal opponent of the Communist regime in China and a supporter of those in the US who share his concerns about the CCP. Congressman Gosar has been speaking out about the risks of dependence on China for critical minerals, food, and manufactured goods for some time. Mr. Guo’s prosecution in the US is presumptively political and abusive. The DOJ has lost any credibility at this point. Mr. Guo is presumptively innocent under our Constitution.”