Hart received $3,180 from Confucius International Education Group and $2,135 from Pangaea International Academy, both of which have ties to the Chinese Communist Party. The payments were discovered by Accuracy in Media when it was investigating a Federal Election Commission complaint against Hart.
Confucius International Education Group (CIEG), based in Qingdao, China, is funded by Chinese state-run leasing company Far East Horizon, which has ties to the Youth Communist League.
CIEG created a private academy in Iowa that took in foreign-exchange students after their one-year programs at a local school ended so that they could remain in the U.S. without having to pay tuition.
The exchange program’s goal is to turn the academy on Confucius International Education Group’s campus, Pangaea International Academy, into a degree-granting school. Hart supported Pangaea International Academy when she was a State Senator.
Hart was an elementary school teacher before being elected to Iowa’s state Senate in 2012.
Iowa has for decades had close ties to Chinese President Xi Jinping, who first traveled there in 1985 as part of a delegation looking into farming technology. Xi visited the state again in 2012 just before assuming the role of Chinese president. The state was floated as a potential site for the signing of President Trump's phase one trade agreement between the U.S. and China.
"Why does the Chinese Communist Party need to pay thousands of dollars to an elementary school teacher who's running for Congress, if not merely to buy influence?" said Adam Guillette, president of Accuracy in Media, a conservative media watchdog with a history of political activism.
Neither Hart nor House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., immediately responded to Fox News’ request for comment. Fox News’ call to Pangaea International Academy went unreturned and attempts to reach Confucius International Education Group were unsuccessful.
Hart on Tuesday contested the certification of her election with the House of Representatives after dropping her challenge through the legal system, admitting she couldn’t "get the results" needed to overturn the outcome. Hart says her six-vote loss to Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks would have been a nine-vote win if 22 excluded lawful ballots were counted.
Tuesday’s filing means the election result is reviewed by a three-person committee which will then make a recommendation to the full House Administration Committee. The committee would then deliver a report to the full House where a simple majority vote would decide the outcome.
"Is Nancy Pelosi going to overturn the will of the voters to seat a congressional candidate who's on the payroll of the Chinese Communist Party?" Guillette asked.
China’s attempts to exert its influence in U.S. politics garnered the spotlight on Dec. 8 when the news site Axios reported Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., had a past relationship with suspected Chinese spy Christine Fang or Fang Fang.
Swalwell, who serves on the House Intelligence Committee, has dodged questions about the relationship. Pelosi has declined to address calls for Swalwell to be removed from the House Intelligence Committee.