Dem congresswoman silent on why she signed hush agreement with Chinese tech company

Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Mich., ignored multiple requests for comment when asked why she signed a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) to engage in closed-door discussions about a Chinese battery company’s proposed factory. Slotkin’s office confirmed to The Detroit News earlier this year that the Michigan lawmaker and her deputy legislative director Austin Girelli signed NDAs to discuss the proposal from Gotion, a subsidiary of the Hefei, China-based Gotion High-Tech, to build an electric vehicle (EV) battery plant in Big Rapids, Michigan. The proposed factory would be located outside of Slotkin’s congressional district. Austin Cook, a spokesperson for Slotkin, explained to the outlet in February that Slotkin believed it was important “to learn more about significant economic development projects like this to better understand their impact, and if there are ways to help from the federal level.” He acknowledged Slotkin and her staff signed NDAs to “be part of those conversations.” However, Cook and Matt Hennessey, Slotkin’s chief of staff, ignored several inquiries from Fox News Digital this week about the NDA, if she signed it to shield herself from questions about Gotion and whether she believed it was appropriate to hide such negotiations from the public. CHINESE TECH COMPANIES ARE EXPLOITING US GREEN ENERGY GOALS, FORMER STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIALS WARN “When it was time for a Michigan voice to speak on the national security threats from the CCP emanating from companies based in the PRC and protect the State of Michigan, Congresswoman Slotkin and her staff needed to ask for an NDA, never took a position, and said nothing,” former U.S. Ambassador Peter Hoekstra told Fox News Digital. Hoekstra and fellow former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Cella recently founded the Michigan-China Economic and Security Review Group to study Chinese economic investments across the country with a particular focus on Michigan. The two have raised the alarm on Gotion’s proposed facility and similar projects involving other Chinese companies. CCP-BACKED TECH COMPANIES ARE POISED TO CASH IN ON BIDEN’S CLIMATE BILL, NATIONAL SECURITY EXPERTS WARN On April 4, the pair asked the Department of Justice to open a federal investigation into potential violations of the Foreign Agents Registration (FARA) related to the five-year NDAs signed as part of the Gotion negotiations. They argued officials may need to register under FARA “on account of their direct agreements and engagements” with Gotion. In addition to Slotkin, officials with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) and The Right Place, a western Michigan economic development agency pushing the Gotion proposal, have also entered into NDAs to discuss the project. “The State of Michigan, the MEDC, The Right Place and others advocating for Gotion have said they do not know anything about national security when it comes to this project,” Cella told Fox News Digital. “Congresswoman Slotkin is a former CIA analyst and Defense Department official who knows that state and local officials were warned by our intelligence agencies not to sign deals with PRC-based companies with ties to the CCP.”  “It is shocking that rather than helping educate the Whitmer Administration and other parties why to end their support of this project because of its national security threat, Congresswoman Slotkin signed a non-disclosure agreement and looked the other way,” he added. The revelation that Slotkin signed the hush agreement came as the Gotion project received increasing scrutiny from national security experts, lawmakers and locals concerned about the company’s Chinese ties. According to its corporate bylaws, Gotion High-Tech is required to “carry out Party activities in accordance with the Constitution of the Communist Party of China.” In February — months after Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the MEDC announced Gotion would invest nearly $2.4 billion in the plant supported by hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer-funded incentives — Gotion put its plans on hold due to the massive local uproar. BIDEN’S AMBITIOUS EV PLANS COULD MAKE US MORE DEPENDENT ON CHINESE SUPPLY CHAINS, EXPERTS WARN “There is no communist plot within Gotion to make Big Rapids a center to spread communism,” Chuck Thelen, Gotion’s vice president of North American operations, said during a public forum held this month to address concerns. But Gotion’s proposed plant continues to face strong local objections from residents and local officials. Rep. John Moolenaar, R-Mich., who represents the district where the plant would be constructed, has fiercely opposed the project and expressed concern about the NDAs signed as part of its development. “The non-disclosure agreements raise serious questions about why Gotion and the officials involved would want to hide details of the project from the public,” Moolenaar, who is also a member of the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party, told Fox News Digital. “NDAs can create distrust and make the public feel like they are not getting the whole story.” “It is unfair to ask Michigan taxpayers for billions of dollars while keeping details hidden in NDAs.” On Monday, after the Department of Justice charged two individuals for operating a secret Chinese Communist Party (CCP)-affiliated police station, Moolenaar doubled down on his opposition to the plant, arguing a company that pledges allegiance to the CCP “will use all its resources, including subsidiaries, to carry out the CCP’s agenda.” And Penny Currie, the treasurer of Big Rapids Charter Township, told Fox News Digital that the majority of locals are opposed to the project. She added that much of the opposition has come because the proposal has been shrouded in secrecy surrounding including the NDAs. “The township’s concerns have all been surrounded by the lack of information given to them to make an educated decision surrounded by NDAs signed by multiple different organizations including the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and our local economic development corporation and The Right Place which is working for Gotion to bring it here,” Currie said.  “That is one of our main concerns and is why we haven’t been able to move forward with a decision of any kind,” she continued. Meanwhile, the Michigan state Senate Appropriations Committee is slated to vote Thursday morning on public funding for the Gotion project, a final hurdle for ensuring it gets financial support from the state, the Michigan Information and Research Service reported. When asked if she still supported it, Whitmer said the project would be a “game-changer” and create “great paying jobs.” Gotion didn’t respond to a request for comment.
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