Before Gurbaksh Chahal was convicted of domestic violence and battery against his girlfriend and fired from his job as CEO of marketing firm RadiumOne, his rags-to-riches story had been touted as a case study in the push for comprehensive immigration reform.
Chahal’s family, Business Insider wrote in 2012, came from India to the United States with only $25 to their name. Less than two years after he dropped out of high school at 16, he sold an Internet company for $40 million.
As he rose in business and his story began to be proclaimed as an example, Chahal advocated for immigration reform and even participated in a question-and-answer session with President Obama, during which the two discussed the issue.
Now, Chahal stands disgraced after he pleaded guilty to domestic assault against his girlfriend. The incident was recorded on video, allegedly showing him hit his girlfriend over 100 times and threatening to kill her, but the video was excluded from court as illegally obtained by the police, resulting in a plea deal with a relative slap on the wrist as punishment.
In his defense, he posted on his personal website saying he had discovered his girlfriend was having sex with other men for money, but the effort at clearing his name seems to have done more harm for good.
As recently as a week ago, Chahal was writing on his blog about the entrepreneurial prowess of immigrants.
“A study by the Partnership for a New American Economy, for instance, found that more than 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or their children,” Chahal wrote, citing a study from a group backed by Michael Bloomberg, Marriott CEO and chairman Bill Marriott, Disney CEO and president Bob Iger, Boeing CEO and chairman Jim McNerney, Democrat mayor Julian Castro of San Antonio, Texas, now former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and more.
Chahal visited the White House several times, and in April 2013 posted to his Facebook page that he had just asked the president what his top priorities were for his second term.
“His Answer: Immigration Reform, Gun Legislation, Energy, Infrastructure Development, and Early Childhood Education,” Chahal wrote.
Chahal also donated tens of thousands of dollars to the Democratic party and Democratic candidates.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, he gave $81,600 to Democratic firm DNC Services Corp. from 2011 to 2013 and $5,000 to President Obama’s re-election campaign back in 2011. In 2012, he donated $14,626 to state Democratic Parties split between New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Colorado, North Carolina, Virginia, Nevada, Iowa, Wisconsin, Ohio and Florida. This cycle, in June 2013, he donated to Democratic candidate for Congress Ro Khanna–who served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary at the Department of Commerce under the Obama administration. Also this cycle, in September 2013, he donated $1,000 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), an official Democratic Party arm devoted to electing Democrats to the House of Representatives.
The DNC returned a $20,000 donation made in 2014 Friday, according to the Associated Press.