Sen. John F. Kerry's Democratic presidential campaign collected a maximum $2,000 check from the recently arrested son of South Korea's disgraced former president, and some of its fundraisers met several times with a South Korean government official who was trying to organize a Korean American political group.
The Kerry campaign said it did not know about the $2,000 donation from Chun Jae Yong or his background until informed by the Associated Press. "We are sending the check back," spokesman Michael Meehan said.
Chun Jae Yong was arrested in February by South Korean authorities on charges of evading taxes on $14 million in inheritance money. His father, former president Chun Doo Hwan, was convicted in 1997 on bribery charges.
Chun Jae Yong was a business partner last year of Rick Yi, one of Kerry's major fundraisers in the Asian American community. Yi acknowledged soliciting the donation from Chun last summer before learning of his legal problems.
South Korean government officials said that Chung Byung Man, the vice counsel in South Korea's Los Angeles office, returned home last month amid "speculation" he had engaged in Democratic politics, but that they do not believe any laws were broken. Yi said Chung discussed forming a political group to organize influential Korean Americans.