PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The state of Wyoming is ground zero for the future of the Republican Party this week, with Trump critic Liz Cheney losing her primary there at the same time that Trump ally Kevin McCarthy is holding a major annual donor retreat elsewhere in the state.
Among those witnessing the clash inside the GOP in person: Republican congressional candidate Allan Fung. His campaign confirmed Wednesday he is among the attendees at the retreat hosted by McCarthy, who leads the House GOP caucus on Capitol Hill.
Punchbowl News, a Capitol Hill news outlet, reported Wednesday that McCarthy’s event “was loaded with millionaires and billionaires (including Elon Musk, the world’s richest person) who want him to become the next speaker of the House.”
Asked about Fung’s attendance, campaign spokesperson Steven Paiva initially told 12 News that Fung was “out of state on a fundraising swing.”
In response to a follow-up question, Paiva confirmed Fung attended the McCarthy donor retreat so he could be part of “a panel highlighting strong diverse candidates across the country.”
The trip offered further evidence of Fung’s strengthening relationship with McCarthy, who already visited Rhode Island earlier this month in order to raise money for the former Cranston mayor and highlight Republican hopes that Fung can win a House seat Democrats have held for decades.
The Fung campaign has shied away from publicizing his encounters with McCarthy, and previously refused to answer questions about the GOP leader’s visit to Rhode Island for over a week. Democrats have attacked Fung for the connection, arguing it shows the former Cranston mayor will be allied with McCarthy and Trump in Washington.
Fung’s trip to Wyoming came to light after it emerged he would be missing a forum for 2nd District candidates organized by clergy leaders, which is being held Thursday in Cranston.
One of the organizers, Rabbi Jeffrey Goldwasser of Temple Sinai in Cranston, told The Public’s Radio that getting Fung to attend “involved changing a flight from Wyoming” and the campaign was unable to do so.
The only public poll that has been conducted in the 2nd Congressional District race so far was published in June, and showed Fung leading Democratic frontrunner Seth Magaziner 45% to 39%.
The new 12 News/Roger Williams University poll released Tuesday showed Magaziner leading a crowded field of Democrats by nearly 30 points. The Democratic candidates are scheduled to debate live on 12 News in prime time on Aug. 30.
Magaziner had $1.7 million in his campaign account as of June 30, while Fung had $762,000, according to Federal Election Commission reports. The Democrat’s campaign was quick to seize on news of Fung’s trip to Wyoming to renew its criticism of him.
“Allan Fung has decided rubbing elbows with Kevin McCarthy and billionaire donors is more important than a candidate forum with Rhode Island voters,” Magaziner spokesperson Patricia Socarras said in a news release. “Allan Fung has repeatedly shown he will put his far-right supporters before working Rhode Islanders.”
Ted Nesi (email@example.com) is a Target 12 investigative reporter and 12 News politics/business editor. He co-hosts Newsmakers and writes Nesi’s Notes on Saturdays. Connect with him on Twitter and Facebook.