Who is Cindy Yang and how is she connected to Trump and the spa where Patriots owner was charged?

Christal Hayes

A day spa that led to prostitution charges against New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft. A business consulting firm offering foreign companies access to President Donald Trump. 

One person helped found both: Li Yang, better known as Cindy Yang.

Almost overnight, the Chinese entrepreneur went from unknown Florida resident to the center of attention with questions mounting about her businesses and political ties. The story seems to be only getting weirder. And it's all centered in a state known for its bizarre news. 

Here's everything we know about Yang and her businesses:  

Spa businesses

Yang, 45, started a chain of Asian spas called Tokyo Day Spas throughout Florida, which included Orchids of Asia Day Spa that police say Kraft visited multiple times to solicit sexual favors. 

Kraft's charges resulted from a prostitution and sex-trafficking probe of similar businesses — where massage parlors doubled as venues for prostitution. About 300 others were charged in the probe. 

People mill around in front of the Orchids of Asia Day Spa after New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft being charged with allegedly soliciting for sex on Feb. 22, 2019 in Jupiter, Florida. Mr. Kraft was caught up in a law enforcement operation in South Florida that netted hundreds of johns over the past two weeks.

More: How Florida police snared nearly 300 — including Robert Kraft — at spas used for sex trafficking

Authorities say they have footage of Kraft visiting the Jupiter, Florida, spa and receiving oral sex in January, just hours before the AFC Championship Game where he watched the Patriots beat the Kansas City Chiefs.

Police detailed that many women who worked at the spas were Chinese and forced to live at the spas against their will. 

Yang, who was not charged in the investigation, told the Miami Herald that she had sold the spa before the scandal involving Kraft. 

The Herald reports that her family still owns several South Florida spas, and the Tokyo Day Spa chain has attracted police attention on allegations of similar prostitution activity. When talking with the Herald, Yang denied ever breaking the law but declined to answer questions about her knowledge of sex being offered at the spas. 

Donations to Trump campaign

The Herald reported that Yang was not active in politics until the 2016 election and the rise of Donald Trump, noting records showed she hadn't voted in 10 years. 

But that changed after the 2016 election. 

Since Trump has taken the White House, Yang and her relatives have donated more than $42,000 to a Trump political action committee and more than $16,000 to Trump’s campaign, the Herald reported

On a now-deleted website for Yang's consulting business, she described herself as a "member of the presidential fundraising committee." 

Business promising access to White House

Yang also runs a consulting business that offers to sell Chinese clients access to Trump and his family at Mar-a-Lago, according to the company's website.

Mother Jones, which broke the story Saturday, reported the company  — GY US Investments LLC — has a website, mostly in Chinese, that shows her and purported clients hobnobbing at the presidential retreat.

It details Yang's vast network within the Trump administration and Republican Party — including photos with the president, his family, members of Congress and key White House aides — and offers businesses and individuals a window into that network.

More: Founder of Florida spa tied to Robert Kraft case offered access to Trump and family at Mar-a-Lago to Chinese clients

The company, founded in 2017 by Yang and her husband, Zubin Gong, describes itself as a consulting firm that helps businesses in America "expand their brand image in the modern Chinese marketplace.” 

The website lists events where Yang and others at the company mingled with the president and members of his cabinet, such as Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.

It boasts about opportunities for businesses and individuals where they can “have the opportunity to interact with the president” and other “political figures.” It lists various dinners and charity events where the company boasts it has "arranged taking photos with the President" and suggests it can set up a "White House and Capitol Hill Dinner."

The site lists a fluid calendar of events, most including Trump, and a phone number for interested businesses and parties to call. 

All the photos

Scanning through Yang's Facebook page or her company website, one would think she was one of the most well-connected people in Washington. 

The Miami Herald was the first to uncover photos of Yang with Trump and other high-profile figures, finding on her Facebook page that she'd watched this year's Super Bowl at a party hosted by the president. 

Yang snapped a selfie photo with Trump from the Super Bowl watch party, held at the president's West Palm Beach country club, the Miami Herald reported.

More: Founder of Florida day spa tied to Robert Kraft's prostitution case attended Trump's Super Bowl party, report says

Trump, a longtime friend of Kraft and a Patriots admirer, is seen leaning back in his chair and smiling with Yang and another woman who are seated at a table behind the president in the blurry photo. They watched New England beat the Los Angeles Rams for the franchise's sixth championship. 

An array of additional photos were uncovered Saturday after Mother Jones discovered a deleted website for Yang's consulting business. 

A cached version of the website from the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine,shows Yang attending a number of galas, dinners and political events, even getting an invite to the White House for one event. 

The website shows photos of Yang with the president's family, including sons Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr., top White House aide Kellyanne Conway, former Trump aide Sebastian Gorka and Fox News host Jesse Watters. Between photos posted on social media and on her website, Yang is photographed with nearly everyone in Trump's orbit, from prominent members of Congress such as Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to Trump's campaign manager Brad Parscale. 

The webpage also lists photos from a December 2017 fundraising event in New York City where Trump made remarks about trade with China and a recent trip he took to the country.

The Atlantic Ocean is seen adjacent to President Donald Trump's beach front Mar-a-Lago resort, also sometimes called his Winter White House.

The company wrote there was nearly 100 Chinese attendees at the event, “which marked the rise of Chinese political participation in politics.” The page includes photos of attendees with Trump and Conway, who is dubbed “the hero of Trump’s presidency” on the website.

Yang is listed on her company's website as “one of the only guests in South Florida who was invited to the White House to celebrate” the Chinese New Year in 2018. 

Several photos of the event show Yang and others wearing what appears to be a White House-issued pass, which are given by security in order to gain access to the grounds. 

Contributing: Doug Stanglin, USA TODAY.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Who is Cindy Yang and how is she connected to Trump and the spa where Patriots owner was charged?