Elizabeth Kucinich and her husband, Cleveland Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich, both enjoy touting the benefits of an animal-free vegan diet. That's why they're featured in a video produced by followers of "Supreme Master Ching Hai," a Vietnamese spiritual leader who runs a worldwide chain of vegan restaurants.
The video by "Supreme Master TV" highlights Mrs. Kucinich's work with Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, where she advocates for agriculture policies that boost plant-based foods and fights animal testing on chimpanzees. The video also highlights a $50,000 donation from Ching Hai to the physicians group.
Ching Hai, who sells fashions, jewelry, and housewares she designs herself, has been called a Buddhist Martha Stewart by TIME magazine, which reported that she gives hundreds of thousands of dollars to victims of disasters, including survivors of the Oklahoma City bombing.
Others say Ching Hai's group is a cult. Her organization made the news more than a decade ago, when President Bill Clinton declined roughly $600,000 in legal defense fund donations from her followers.
"I can help the homeless on the street with five thousand or hundred thousand dollars," Ching Hai told CNN at the time. "Why couldn't I help a president of the United States when he's in trouble? He's more poor than the homeless and he has only $200,000 a year. He earns less than I earn."
Clinton's legal team rejected the checks because they worried members of the group were used as fronts for wealthier interests who wanted to contribute to Mr. Clinton's legal defense fund, The New York Times reported.