Beijing loyalists have been eager to accuse leaders of the Occupy movement of allying with "external forces" - but one American group often linked to the protests has, in fact, been working with the city's leading pro-establishment party. The US-based National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI) confirmed that, over the past decade, members of Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong had joined its events. "NDI has conducted numerous consultations and workshops for political parties in Hong Kong," it said. "Representatives from the DAB have participated." The workshops, for candidates and party members, covered topics such as campaigning, media relations, public speaking and voter outreach. NDI, which is often named when pro-Beijing politicians and media accuse foreign powers of pulling Occupy's strings, has had an office in the city for 17 years. It says it has no relations with the protests and its only activity in the past year has been funding a "neutral" website on democracy. NDI is funded by the US Congress via the National Endowment for Democracy, which also provides funds to Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor and Solidarity Centre, a Washington-based body that gave grants to the pan-democratic Confederation of Trade Unions. DAB lawmaker Gary Chan Hak-kan said NDI had held "one or two" seminars on "elections and theories" a few years ago. "It's all right to talk about theories," said Chan. "But you do not know what they did with other parties. It would be a problem if they provided funding, trained others how to mobilise people and incited them to revolt." Legislative Council president and DAB leading light Jasper Tsang Yok-sing directed the Post to other lawmakers when contacted about his party's relations with the NDI. He told Chinese-language media that there was collaboration with the NDI, including training and discussion of democratic development. Tsang did reveal involvement by another US group, which suggested the slogan used by the party since 2005 to recruit candidates: "A party with a future". "It came from a campaign expert of a group that helped women run for elections. We adopted it. But I don't remember the name. It was not NDI," he said. Democratic Party member Lee Wing-tat said DAB members were at an NDI seminar he attended in the early 2000s. Referring to rumours many DAB members were Communist Party members, he said: "If they say holding seminars is equal to interfering in Hong Kong affairs, did NDI support the Communists too? It is nonsense to make a conspiracy theory out of this kind of interaction."